Top 10 Essay Writing Mistakes to Avoid

Essay writing is a fundamental skill that plays a crucial role in academic success. Whether it is a high school assignment, a college essay, or a graduate-level research paper, the ability to convey ideas effectively through writing is essential. It is essential to avoid essay writing mistakes that most students do when writing their paper for better grades. If you have been asking, what are top essay writing mistakes by students, this post is for you.

To ensure good grades even when writing a 5-paragraph essay, it is imperative for students to be well-versed in the dos and don’ts of paper writing, avoiding common mistakes and employing common essay writing tips that guarantee top grades consistently.

The following are 10 essay writing mistakes to avoid for better grades in your paper writing.

1. Plagiarism

Plagiarism is the act of using someone else’s work without giving them credit. It is a serious academic offense that can result in failing an assignment or even being expelled from school. To avoid plagiarism, always cite your sources properly.

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  • Plagiarism: The act of using someone else’s work without proper attribution.
  • Serious consequences: Can lead to failing assignments or expulsion from school.
  • Cite sources: Always give credit to the original authors by citing your sources properly.
  • Avoiding plagiarism: Ensure that you properly reference and cite all borrowed information, including quotes, paraphrases, and summaries.
  • Academic integrity: Uphold the principles of academic honesty by acknowledging the contributions of others in your work.
  • Plagiarism detection tools: Utilize plagiarism detection software to check your work for any unintentional instances of plagiarism.
  • Proper citation: Familiarize yourself with the appropriate citation style (e.g., APA, MLA) and follow it consistently throughout your essay.
  • Paraphrasing: When using someone else’s ideas, rephrase them in your own words while still acknowledging the original source.
  • Quoting: Use quotation marks and provide a proper citation when directly quoting someone else’s words.
  • Self-plagiarism: Be mindful of not reusing your own previously submitted work without proper acknowledgment, as it can also be considered plagiarism.

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2. Bad grammar and spelling

One common mistake in essay writing is the presence of bad grammar and spelling errors. These errors not only detract from the overall professionalism of your essay but can also hinder the reader’s comprehension of your ideas.

Why should I avoid grammar and misspelling errors in my essay? When your essay is riddled with grammatical mistakes and misspelled words, it becomes challenging for the reader to follow your arguments and fully grasp the intended message. To avoid this pitfall, it is crucial to allocate sufficient time for thorough proofreading and editing.

Carefully review your essay, paying close attention to grammar rules, sentence structure, and word choice. Additionally, utilize spelling and grammar checking tools to catch any overlooked errors.

To avoid such essay writing mistakes, you must go through your paper to ensure it is correct grammatically, which should remove any inconsistencies before you eventually forward it to the reader (instructor). There are some AI tools to assist in proofreading your essay, with the popular one being grammarly. By using grammarly, you can detect sentences that have common errors such as passive voice and wordiness.

The following are common grammar errors in essay writing:
  1. Subject-Verb Agreement Error:
    • Incorrect: The students is studying for their exams.
    • Correct: The students are studying for their exams.
  2. Run-on Sentence:
    • Incorrect: I love to read books I find them enjoyable and educational.
    • Correct: I love to read books; I find them enjoyable and educational.
  3. Misuse of Pronouns:
    • Incorrect: Sarah and me went to the library.
    • Correct: Sarah and I went to the library.
  4. Lack of Parallelism:
    • Incorrect: She likes hiking, swimming, and to run.
    • Correct: She likes hiking, swimming, and running.
  5. Improper Word Order:
    • Incorrect: I to the park went yesterday.
    • Correct: I went to the park yesterday.
  6. Incorrect Verb Tense:
    • Incorrect: I seen that movie last night.
    • Correct: I saw that movie last night.
  7. Comma Splice:
    • Incorrect: The sun was setting, it painted the sky with beautiful colors.
    • Correct: The sun was setting, painting the sky with beautiful colors.

Strategy to check and reduce instances of misspelling and grammar errors when writing an essay:

  1. Proofreading: A crucial step in the writing process that involves carefully reviewing your essay to identify and correct grammar and spelling errors.
  2. Grammar checkers and spell-check tools: Utilize automated tools to assist in identifying and correcting grammar and spelling mistakes, but use them as aids and not as substitutes for careful proofreading.
  3. Reading aloud: Helps catch errors that may go unnoticed when reading silently, allowing you to identify awkward phrasing or incorrect grammar.
  4. Seek external feedback: Ask a peer, instructor, or writing center for feedback on your essay, specifically targeting grammar and spelling errors.
  5. Grammar and style guides: Consult reputable grammar and style guides (e.g., The Elements of Style) to improve your understanding of grammar rules and usage.
  6. Editing and revising: Allocate time for multiple rounds of editing and revising to catch and correct grammar and spelling errors that you may have missed in earlier drafts.
  7. Take breaks: Step away from your essay for a while before proofreading to approach it with fresh eyes and a more critical mindset.

3. No thesis statement

The thesis statement is the main argument of your essay. It should be clear, concise, and arguable. Without a thesis statement, your essay will lack focus and direction. This is one of the most common essay writing mistakes done by both beginners and experienced paper writers.

There are proven ways you can make your thesis statement strong when writing an essay. In most cases, the thesis statement determines the grade you get in your papers.

Proven tips to complete a strong thesis statement:
  1. Clear and concise: Your thesis statement needs to be clear and straightforward, putting out the argument or main point in a clear concisely. The reader should not be left with unanswered questions when they read your thesis statement.
  2. Specific and focused: It should address a specific aspect or issue related to the topic, avoiding broad or vague statements.
  3. Arguable: The thesis statement should present a debatable claim or position that can be supported with evidence and reasoning.
  4. Supported by evidence: It should be based on relevant evidence, facts, or examples that can be explored in the body of the essay.
  5. Relevant to the essay topic: The thesis statement should directly relate to the essay prompt or topic, providing a central focus for the discussion.
  6. Reflective of the essay’s structure: It should align with the planned structure and organization of the essay, guiding the reader on what to expect in the subsequent paragraphs.
  7. Revised and refined: A thesis statement should be revised and refined as the essay progresses, ensuring that it accurately reflects the evolving arguments and analysis presented in the essay.
  8. Positioned at the end of the introduction: Typically, the thesis statement is placed at the end of the introductory paragraph to clearly indicate the main argument from the outset.
  9. Attention-grabbing: While not necessary, an effective thesis statement can be attention-grabbing and intriguing, encouraging the reader’s interest and engagement with the essay.
  10. Revisited in the conclusion: The thesis statement should be revisited and reinforced in the conclusion, summarizing the main points and reinforcing the central argument made in the essay.

Example of thesis statement

If you were writing an essay about the effects of social media on interpersonal relationships, an example of the thesis statement could be as follows:

The pervasive use of social media platforms has significantly impacted interpersonal relationships, leading to both positive and negative consequences, as evidenced by the increased connectivity and accessibility, but also the erosion of face-to-face communication skills and privacy concerns.

As yo can see, the above thesis statement clearly presents the main argument of the essay, which is that social media has massive influence on interpersonal relationships. It argues that there is indeed an existence of both positive and negative effects, setting the stage for a balanced analysis.

The use of phrases like “increased connectivity and accessibility” and “erosion of face-to-face communication skills and privacy concerns” highlights the specific aspects the paper’s subsequent paragraphs will be discussing.

4. Weak evidence

Your essay should be supported by evidence from credible sources. This evidence should be relevant to your topic and should help you to support your thesis statement.

One crucial thing to note when using references in your essay, every entry on the reference list must be cited within the paper. If you have 6 external sources in your reference list, each of the sources must be cited somewhere within your essay.

It is wrong to have a reference entry that is not cited in your paper. It is also wrong to have a citations of a material that does not appear on the references list.

  • Credible sources: Ensure that the evidence you use in your essay comes from reliable and authoritative sources. This can include scholarly articles, books, reputable websites, and other trusted publications.
  • Relevance to the topic: The evidence you present should directly relate to your essay’s topic and support your thesis statement. Avoid using irrelevant or tangential information that does not contribute to your argument.
  • Sufficient quantity: Use an adequate amount of evidence to support your claims. Depending on the length and requirements of your essay, strive to provide multiple pieces of evidence to strengthen your arguments.
  • Variety of evidence types: Utilize a diverse range of evidence types, such as statistical data, expert opinions, case studies, personal anecdotes, or historical examples. This helps to reinforce your arguments and demonstrates a comprehensive understanding of the topic.
  • Proper citation: Always provide accurate and complete citations for your sources. This includes citing both in-text and creating a detailed bibliography or reference page according to the required citation style (e.g., APA, MLA).
  • Quality of evidence: Ensure that the evidence you use is of high quality and reliable. Scrutinize the sources for bias, credibility, and relevance to avoid presenting weak or questionable evidence.
  • Analyzing and interpreting evidence: Don’t simply present evidence; analyze and interpret it to show how it supports your thesis statement. Provide explanations and connect the evidence back to your main arguments.
  • Avoiding logical fallacies: Be cautious of using evidence that relies on logical fallacies or flawed reasoning, as it weakens the overall strength of your essay. Examples include anecdotal evidence, hasty generalizations, or appeals to emotion without substantive support.
  • Consistency: Ensure that your evidence aligns with your thesis statement and supports a cohesive argument throughout your essay. Avoid presenting contradictory or conflicting evidence that weakens your overall position.
  • Fact-checking: Double-check the accuracy and validity of the evidence you use. Avoid relying on misinformation or outdated information that can undermine the credibility of your essay.

If you are struggling with writing references in APA style, MLA format, HARVARD or Chicago styles, you can ask us to “Do my paper in APA style” and our writing experts will deliver a custom paper on time. This can apply in different types of assignments including reflection essays (a type of essay where the writer shares their personal experiences, thoughts, and insights on a particular topic or event).

You can also check our APA style guide to know more about APA cover page, APA references, In-text citations in APA and so on.

5. Poor organization

Your essay should be well-organized and easy to follow. The introduction should introduce your topic, the body paragraphs should support your thesis statement, and the conclusion should summarize your main points.

If you want to know how to organize your essay in APA format, follow our APA guide series.

We have also written an essay structure for students here, you can also get an APA template for free; which one can use on any essay.

Correct, the organization of an APA paper typically follows the structure you’ve outlined:

  1. Cover Page: The cover page includes the title of the paper, the author’s name, the institutional affiliation, and a running head. It also includes a page header (title) and page number in the upper right corner.
  2. Introduction: The introduction presents the topic of the paper, provides background information, and includes the thesis statement. It sets the stage for the rest of the paper by outlining the main objectives and purpose of the study or analysis.
  3. Body Paragraphs: The body paragraphs form the main content of the paper and provide detailed analysis, arguments, evidence, and supporting information. Each paragraph should focus on a single main point or subtopic and be logically connected to the overall thesis statement. Proper use of headings and subheadings can enhance the organization and clarity of the body paragraphs.
  4. Conclusion: The conclusion summarizes the main points discussed in the paper and restates the thesis statement. It provides a concise wrap-up of the paper’s findings and may offer final thoughts or implications. It should not introduce new information or arguments.
  5. References: The references section lists all the sources cited within the paper. It follows specific formatting guidelines according to APA style, providing detailed information about each source (e.g., author, publication year, title, source information). The reference list should be alphabetized by authors’ last names and presented on a separate page.

6. Repetition

Repetition in an essay can diminish its overall quality and impact. If you want to write a professional essay paper and get good grades, you must avoid these essay writing mistakes which most students ignore. Here are some points to consider in order to avoid unnecessary repetition:

Repetition, one of the common essay writing mistakes, can diminish its overall quality and impact. Here are some points to consider in order to avoid unnecessary repetition:

  1. Varied vocabulary: Use a diverse range of words and phrases to express your ideas. Look for synonyms or alternative ways to convey the same meaning without repeating the same words excessively.
  2. Sentence structure: Vary your sentence structures to add variety and maintain reader engagement. Avoid using the same sentence structure repeatedly, as it can make your writing monotonous.
  3. Transitional phrases: Employ transitional phrases and words to smoothly transition between ideas and paragraphs. This will help to maintain the flow of your essay and prevent the need for repetitive statements.
  4. Summarize and synthesize: Instead of restating the same information, focus on summarizing and synthesizing your points. Combine related ideas and present them in a concise manner, avoiding unnecessary repetition of details.
  5. Logical organization: Ensure that your essay is logically organized, with each paragraph or section contributing new information or supporting evidence. This way, you can avoid repeating the same points across different parts of your essay.

7. Wordiness

What is wordiness in writing?

Wordiness in essay writing refers to the excessive use of words or phrases that do not contribute to the clarity or effectiveness of the writing. It involves using more words than necessary to express an idea, resulting in unnecessarily long or convoluted sentences.

Examples of wordiness in essay writing:

Redundant phrases: Using phrases that repeat the same meaning or information already conveyed.

Example: “The reason why” instead of simply “the reason” or “why.”

Unnecessary modifiers: Adding unnecessary adjectives or adverbs that do not provide additional value or clarity to the sentence.

Example: “She ran quickly” instead of simply “She ran.”

Filler words and phrases: Including words or phrases that do not add any meaningful content to the sentence.

Example: “In my opinion, I believe that” instead of simply stating the opinion or belief.

Repetition: Repeating the same idea or information using different words or phrases.

Example: “The car is red in color” instead of simply “The car is red.”

Overly complex sentence structure: Using long and convoluted sentences that could be expressed more clearly and concisely.

Example: “The investigation of the matter, which had been assigned to a team of highly skilled and experienced professionals, resulted in the identification and determination of the underlying causes that led to the failure of the project.”

8. Personal opinions

Your essay should be based on facts and evidence, not on your personal opinions.

Example of “wordy and opinionated” in an essay;

In my personal opinion, I strongly believe that the government’s decision to implement stricter gun control laws is a terrible idea. I feel that it infringes upon our constitutional rights and undermines the principles of individual freedom and self-defense that our nation was founded upon.

This is wrong

Revised and factual:

The government’s decision to implement stricter gun control laws raises concerns about potential infringements on constitutional rights and the balance between individual freedom and public safety.

This is correct ✔

9. Unclear writing

Make sure your writing is clear and easy to understand. Avoid using jargon or technical terms that your reader may not understand.

Check the following example of unclear and jargon-filled:

The integration of blockchain technology within the fintech industry has disrupted traditional financial systems and paved the way for decentralized peer-to-peer transactions, leveraging the immutability and transparency of distributed ledgers.

This is wrong

Revised sentence which is clear:

The use of blockchain technology in the fintech industry has transformed traditional financial systems by enabling secure and transparent peer-to-peer transactions through decentralized networks.

This is correct ✔

10. Poor formatting

Your essay should be formatted according to the style guide specified by your instructor. This includes using the correct font, font size, margins, and line spacing.

For instance, in APA style, font is often Times New Roman size 12. The entire paper is double-spaced without spaces before or after paragraph. The references should be in “hanging” indentation and citations should be (author, date) format. You can check how to do an APA paper here. You can also ask us to “do my APA paper” and you will receive a custom essay in your email on time.

These top 10 essay writing mistakes can hinder you from achieving your academic success. However, if you follow our recommendations in avoiding each mistake, you can easily become a professional essay writer.


What is plagiarism?Plagiarism is the act of using someone else’s work without giving them proper credit.
What are the consequences of plagiarism?Plagiarism can result in failing assignments or even being expelled from school.
How can I avoid plagiarism?Always cite your sources properly and give credit to the original authors. Ensure that you properly reference and cite all borrowed information, including quotes, paraphrases, and summaries. Use plagiarism detection tools to check your work.
What is academic integrity?Academic integrity refers to upholding the principles of academic honesty by acknowledging the contributions of others in your work.
What is self-plagiarism?Self-plagiarism refers to reusing your own previously submitted work without proper acknowledgment, which can also be considered plagiarism.
Why should I avoid grammar and spelling errors?Grammar and spelling errors can detract from the overall professionalism of your essay and hinder the reader’s comprehension of your ideas.
How can I avoid grammar and spelling errors?Carefully review your essay, paying close attention to grammar rules, sentence structure, and word choice. Utilize spelling and grammar checking tools.
What are some common grammar errors in essay writing?Some common grammar errors include subject-verb agreement errors, run-on sentences, misuse of pronouns, lack of parallelism, improper word order, incorrect verb tense, and comma splices.
How can I check and reduce instances of misspelling and grammar errors?Proofread your essay, use grammar checkers and spell-check tools, read aloud, seek external feedback, consult grammar and style guides, edit and revise multiple times, and take breaks before proofreading.
Why is a thesis statement important?A thesis statement is the main argument of your essay. It provides focus and direction to your essay.
How can I make my thesis statement strong?Make it clear, concise, and arguable. Ensure it is supported by evidence, relevant to the topic, and reflective of the essay’s structure. Position it at the end of the introduction and revisit it in the conclusion.
What is weak evidence in an essay?Weak evidence is evidence that is not relevant to your topic or does not support your thesis statement.
How can I avoid using weak evidence in my essay?Use credible sources, ensure relevance to the topic, provide sufficient quantity and variety of evidence, use proper citation, analyze and interpret the evidence, avoid logical fallacies, maintain consistency, and fact-check the evidence.
Why is poor organization a mistake in essay writing?Poor organization makes an essay difficult to follow.
How can I ensure good organization in my essay?Introduce your topic in the introduction, support your thesis statement in the body paragraphs, and summarize your main points in the conclusion. Use proper headings and subheadings for clarity and follow the required structure.
What is repetition in essay writing?Repetition refers to using the same words or phrases excessively, diminishing the quality and impact of the essay.
How can I avoid unnecessary repetition in my essay?Use varied vocabulary, vary sentence structures, employ transitional phrases, summarize and synthesize instead of restating, ensure logical organization, and avoid repeating the same points.

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Editorial Team. (2023, May 15). Top 10 Essay Writing Mistakes to Avoid. Help Write An Essay. Retrieved from

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