Writing an essay can be a daunting task for any college student, but especially one who wants to appear as intelligent as possible when writing. For those who struggle with written expression, this can be quite a chore, and students might find themselves asking themselves or others, “How can I make my essay sound smarter?” Although there is no way to boost your overall IQ within a few hours it takes to write a paper, fortunately, there are some tried and true ways to develop an artful, intelligent masterpiece in just a few tips.
1. Be Specific and Poignant
In other words, have something to say! If you don’t have anything specific to say, you’ll write sentences that are both meaningless and boring.
2. Utilize Simple Language
Now, it is not the time to bust out the thesaurus. Use words you know the definitions well, and don’t try to replace every elementary word with a more sophisticated term. Not only will your paper fail to make any sense, you’ll also look unintelligent when you use a word incorrectly. Try not to use too many adverbs or words that end in -ing as these overcomplicate your writing and can contribute to overuse of the passive voice, both of which make you sound less intelligent.
3. Create Short, Simple Sentences and Paragraphs
Similarly, don’t write sentences that are ten lines long. Short sentences are easier to read and understand. Each sentence should have one simple thought. Make your paragraphs short, too. Short paragraphs are easier to read because our brains can only process information when it’s broken into small, manageable chunks.
4. Eliminate Fluffy or Repeated Words
Don’t use qualifying words, such as very, basically, rather, extremely, etc. These add nothing to your overall content, but make your sentences too wordy.
5. Avoid Rambling
Consider blocking out your essay ahead of time in order to avoid this common pitfall. If you aren’t sure what to say, you might find yourself rambling and making pointless, inconsequential statements. Knowing what you plan to say ahead of time can help mitigate this effect.
6. Edit–and Do So Painstakingly
Your writing will never be perfect. Period. There is no such thing. You must take great pains to shorten, delete, rewrite, or otherwise, revise anything that is incorrect or does not add to your essay any useful information. Don’t add extra words without a good reason. To make the editing process easy, write the entire text without stopping, then return to it after a few days (or hours, if you’re crunched for time). Read your text and edit. Then, print it, reread, and edit it again.
7. Avoid Slang and Clichés
Don’t use slang words, such as “gonna,” or clichés, such as “get to the bottom of.” These phrases are annoying to readers who might not know what you are referring to. And, whatever you do, don’t write like when you are texting!
8. Make Smart Transitions
You can almost always eliminate phrases such as “so,” “therefore,” “clearly,” and others at the beginning of paragraphs. You can also go ahead and cross out phrases such as, “This quotation means…” or “what this means is…”
When you’re writing, what’s most important is to remember to stick to proper spelling and grammar. Without it, your writing has no chance of sounding intelligent. Once you’ve mastered the mechanics, you should return to these tips to optimize the quality of your paper. You’ll sound like a true genius!