Common Problems That Students Encounter with Essay Writing

                                                                                                             Firangiz Azadi

Essays, such as critical analyses, argumentative essays, and research papers are a common assignment for many students. Following are the common challenges that students may face in writing these essays.

  1. Lack of evidence:

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A mere statement of the argument is not sufficient unless relevant evidence is provided in order to make the claim valid and effective. If a lawyer does not use enough evidence in a court, he will not be able to support and prove his argument effectively. Similarly, a writer should have relevant evidence in his essay in order to persuade the readers and increase the validity of the argument. The best solution is to study well and get acquainted with the topic. While reading about your topic, take notes on the most relevant issues and store them for later use (for references and citations). There are various ways to use the evidence and persuade your readers:

  • Provide evidence that agrees with your stance up to a point, and then add your own ideas to it.
  • Present evidence that contradicts your stance, and then argue against (refute) that evidence to strengthen your position.
  • Use sources against each other, as if they were experts on a panel discussing your claim.
  1. Relevance:

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Students sometimes include evidence that is not relevant to the main topic. This is a result of not spending enough time for planning the essay or trying to reach the word limit. It may also be the case that even relevant facts can seem irrelevant because students sometimes do not use appropriate wording and fail to link different paragraphs and ideas with each other. As a result, even relevant facts and arguments sound irrelevant. This problem can be avoided by following several simple solutions:

  • Before you start writing an essay, make an outline and plan your essay carefully. Connect each part of your essay, arguments and facts to the main idea and the topic.
  • At each stage of the essay, keep asking yourself “Is this relevant?”, “Am I answering the question?”, and “Does this relate directly to the subject I have been asked to discuss?”
  • If you begin to introduce a new and separate problem or topic to discuss and prove a part of your argument, make sure that you return to the main subject and explain how these secondary facts are relevant to the main argument.

 

  1. Clarity:

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One of the key elements of a well-written essay is clarity. A reader can be confused about what exactly is being said in the essay. What is clear to you may not be so for the reader. Therefore, it is important to consider the audience. Some students may use ‘big’ words and complex language in order to sound “smarter” and more “academic”. However, good writing is to express, not to impress. General guidelines that presented here are useful for writing clearly:

  • Assume that the readers do not have sufficient information about the topic and try to define the key words and give explanations for the main problems you are discussing in the essay.
  • Explain the reader what you are going to tell them, and then remind them what you told. According to this formula, in the introduction you should explain what you are going to discuss, elaborate on your ideas in the body paragraphs, and then summarize and remind the reader of all your main arguments in the conclusion.
  • Write cohesive paragraphs constructed around a single idea. All sentences in a paragraph should relate back to the main point. Try to put the main idea of the paragraph in the first sentence of the paragraph.
  • Avoid jargon, slang, unfamiliar words, and complex language. It will only confuse your readers.
  1. Weak Analysis: 
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An essay with a perfect structure, organization, and grammar may get a low grade due to weak analysis. Analytical writing skills involve finding relationships of different facts and ideas, providing possible situations and alternative solutions, and comparing and contrasting. There are several ways to have strong analysis in your essay:

  • Read critically. Take your material apart so that you thoroughly understand its contents and structure.
  • Brainstorm a list of possible points, theories, and other’s views that you could analyze.
  • Try to answer the questions of “Why?, “How”, “What if?”, “So what?”, and so on.
  • Identify propaganda and bias.
  • Investigate interrelationships of different issues and connect disparate pieces of issues.

 

 

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Welcome back, students!

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Top 5 reasons to visit the Writing Center

Shakar Ismayilova

  • Free feedback – There a saying in Azerbaijani culture that “A student never has money!” (Tələbənin pulu olmaz!) Guess what! The Writing Center Consultants are here to help you for free!!!
  • No judgment, only improvement – Students are not fond of hearing judgments. But, we, the Writing Center consultants, only care about how you can develop your paper. Even if you have not started to write your paper yet, no consultant will judge you for that, but rather will be the one willing to sit next to you and help you.
  • Friends – The Writing Center Consultants are the students studying with you at the same university or even at the same class. We are not professors or instructors, but students, who face the same challenges just like you.
  • Confidence – One of the benefits of visiting our Center is that you can be sure that you are on the right track and you can also know what your strong sides are and what needs improvement.
  • Any piece of writing – We are here not only to help you write any paper or part of it for any class, but also to help you prepare for future career or university application by assisting you in writing an effective motivation letter or statement of purpose.adult-1868015_1280
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Happy Women’s Day!

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Personal ambition

How to write a successful personal statement

It is that time of the year when many students sit down to write a personal statement for a graduate school, a semester abroad or exchange programs. Many schools ask similar questions in personal statement essays. They can ask to explain how the program will be beneficial to you or what makes you a good candidate for the program. It may be very tempting to write one personal statement and use it for all the schools and programs you are applying for but you should really write a separate essay for each. Writing a generic and vague personal statement will not make your application stand out. And, what is more important, make sure you answer the question.

Some writing experts define “you”, “why us”, and “creative” types of questions in personal statements. The first type asks students to tell about themselves. For instance, it can be “Describe the world you come from – for example, your family, community or school – and tell us how your world has shaped your dreams and aspirations.” Such personal statements allow the universities to get to know you better. However, they can be dangerous because you need to define the focus of your essay. Avoid retelling your resume and pick several unique qualities you possess. Remember that you need to talk about yourself in a way that demonstrate to the admissions committee which qualities make you a great candidate for the program and are suited to your future career.

“Why us” questions are focused. The university wants to know why you chose them among dozens of schools. Avoid vague statements and excessive praising or flattery. Rather, do your homework and learn as much as you can about the school, their programs, and faculty. What unique specializations do they offer and what significant publications have their faculty produced? Of course, write about what is relevant to the program you have selected.

Some universities and colleges would like to ask creative and “out of the box” questions. Stanford University, for example, asks applicants to write a letter to their future roommate. In this case try to show real you through telling about what made you chose it, how you made your career choice and what you know about the school and the program. With such creative essay questions, find an angle to tell your story but avoid potentially controversial subjects such as political or religious issues.

Finally, do not forget about time management. Allocate enough time to write your essay, carefully revise and proofread it. It is always good to have another pair of eyes on your personal statement and the Write Space consultants are ready to provide feedback and help you write better.

Adapted from:

Fulfillment Fund Sample Personal Statement Questions http://www.fulfillment.org/sites/default/files/forms/Sample%20Personal%20Statement%20Questions.pdf

Purdue Online Writing Lab Writing the Personal Statement https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/642/01/

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Watch this video to book an appointment

If you do not know how to book an appointment with the writing center, please watch this video tutorial. You can learn more from your booking page. We look forward to seeing you in the Write Space!  Continue reading

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Summary is the answer

          Why do we need to write summaries? The truth is that a summary is more than a short version of a text. To write a good summary one needs to read the text actively and be able to see the difference between the main idea and details. Because summary involves annotating and reverse outlining the text, it is a great way for your professor to see if you read and understood the text. Summarizing is a necessary skill outside student life as well. One needs to be able to filter through tons of ‘information noise’ and present a piece of information in a concise form. Ultimately, summarizing can be someone’s job. A President of a country has assistants whose job is to summarize information and brief their boss on what is happening in the world. Thus, if you learn how to effectively summarize, you can become a President’s assistant!

Now that we know why summary is important, let me explain how to write one:

  • First, read the text to find the main idea (the main argument or the main claim). Highlight the sentences that express the main idea and write them down in your copybook. Then write that same main idea in your own words. This is paraphrasing and you need it because you should write summaries in your words, not the author’s words.
  • Go back to the text and read it again to find three or four major sub-claims or pieces of evidence that support the main idea. Highlight them and write them down in your copybook as bullet points. Again, remember to use your own words.
  • Now that you have created the outline of the text (as a result of reverse outlining), put the text away and write your summary using the outline. Not looking at the original text ensures that you will not ‘borrow’ any of the author’s phrases and expressions (helps you avoid plagiarism).
  • Introduce the text title and the author with phrases like “In Distant Relatives John Smith writes …”
  • Remember to use transitions to make your text coherent and not boring.
  • Also, use reporting verbs and phrases to give credit to the author such as “The author states that…”or “Further Smith also adds that …”
  • You may also use a direct quote every now and then:  As the author puts it himself, “…” Do not forget to cite whenever you write direct quotations and close paraphrase.
  • Finally, revise and proofread your summary. See if you need to add or remove bits of information, check your punctuation, spelling and grammar. Your summary should be about 1/10 of the original text.

Here you have your excellent summary! It may be a little difficult to write summaries but the more you practice, the better your summaries become.

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Meet our new consultants!

We are happy to welcome these intelligent and dynamic students into our team:

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Firangiz Azadi, BAPA 2018

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Asya Huseynli, BBA2018

 

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Rana Abidova, BBA 2019

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Sara Shirinova, BAIS 2018

To learn more about the Write Space team, please click here.

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Be Friends with your Thesis Statement :)

By ULVI SHIRALIYEV

I have heard many students complaining about writing thesis statements for their essays. And even, from my own 2-semester-experience as a writing consultant at the Write Space, ADA’s Writing Center, I have seen many students, especially those taking writing courses, coming to their consultation with a “complete” draft but no thesis statement. Poor thesis statement! If only students knew what good friends they could be with their thesis statement. L How come writing 3-4 page-long essays is possible but when it comes to the poor thesis statement of one-to-two-sentences, they feel desperately sticky? I wrote quite a few essays, in my English preparation year, without outlines, but never without a thesis statement.

I think composing a decent thesis statement should never be a chore. And, indeed, it is not. There may be many reasons why some students do not feel like writing a thesis statement even when they are done with the rest of their paper. In my opinion, the reasons vary from students’ thinking of writing essays as a difficult job to insufficient vocabulary. However, putting everything aside, it is not difficult, and it should not feel like a chore. For instance, I’ll try to help compose a simple but nice thesis statement for two types of essay writing: Critical-analytical essay and Balanced/Argumentative essay.

For the critical analysis essay, I see, you are most probably assigned by your professor an article to read, examine, and write your own critique. If you are okay with the assignment but stuck on the “thesis statement” part, then your generous friend (which herein refers to ^_^ me ^_^) wants to help you with the following starters below:

This paper is going to analyze …

  • This paper will critically examine positive and negative sides of….
  • This critique will show strengths and weaknesses of/in…
  • The analytical review will try to investigate both merits and drawbacks of…
  • This essay will critically analyze the views on the “…” in the essay “…” written by…

NB: By the way, please keep in mind that some writing instructors do not accept a thesis statement that starts with “This paper will analyze”. Therefore, it is always good to get advice first from your instructor about what kind of thesis statement he or she would like to see on your paper. You can also use the following ways to write a thesis statement for critical analysis essay:

Although there are negative points in the essay such as …, it is worth mentioning the positive sides such as …

  • The drawbacks of arguments presented in the article weaken the author’s credibility, however, the merits of the article such as … make the article worth reading.

For Balanced/Argumentative essay you might want to help yourself with the following:

  • Although the common wisdom helps us to understand the views presented by “…”, there are still several points that should be examined in detail.
  • Although the author takes one-sided approach to the issue of “…”, there are still other insights that shed light on the controversial issue of…
  • Notwithstanding the strengths of article “…”, it is also possible to show several weak points presented by “…”
  • In spite of the fact that the author asserts that …, it is unclear how the point on …may influence …

These are just a few examples. You may well come up with many others worth being in the place of thesis statement. And try to practice more and more on how to construct a thesis statement for different kinds of essays. It’s not that difficult. What is difficult is just taking a pen or a pencil with a sheet of paper! Or just your laptop. 😀

Uh-huh, one more thing to keep in mind: it’s always too risky, so quit the habit of writing essays without thesis statement. Thesis is a cloth that is to cover bodies. I am sure just like anyone, you would never dare to go out naked 😜

Ulvi - Profile for The Write Space

Ulvi is an International Relations student at ADA University. He works as a consultant at ADA Writing Centre. He is not limited to a particular set of interests. He is always trying to catch the joy of the moment.

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Will I ever be a good writer?

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When I entered ADA University, from the very first year my life was occupied by writing papers, paragraphs, summaries, and paraphrases. However, I never actually got satisfactory grades for my papers. Even my teachers did not have faith that I would improve my writing. I was very upset and almost gave up since I thought I was not going to be a good writer.  Writing was not “my cup of tea”, I thought to myself. Nevertheless, I never lost faith in myself and kept improving my writing. And here I am, one of the Write Space consultants and successful students in ADA University. Now I get very satisfactory grades for my written assignments, which I owe to my patience and instructors. Here are my quick tips for you to be able to improve your writing:

  • Passion – first of all, you have to love what you are doing
  • Attention – Be attentive to what your instructor/assignment wants from you.
  • Punctuality – Never or rarely miss classes because even by missing one class you lose a lot of information.
  • Experience – of course the more you write/read/research, the more successful you will become.
  • Feedback – I would say one of the most important factors that helped me a lot was getting feedback from my friends and of course professional Write Space consultants 🙂

Therefore, my dear friends, each of you can become a good writer 🙂 Keep loving whatever you are working on, it will lead you to happiness!

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Shakar

Shakar is studying International Relations at ADA University. She is currently a writing consultant at ADA University Writing Centre. She loves traveling, tasting new food, shopping and spending quality time beloved ones

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