Tag Archives: academic writing tips

A Complete Guide on How to Write a Diagnostic Essay

a girl in a blue sweater is writing in a notebook

When you start a course, you are often asked to write a diagnostic essay or a diagnostic composition. This assignment implies writing a piece in response to a question or prompt. It represents your writing abilities and skills, which makes it easier for your instructor or teacher to define your strengths and weaknesses.

As a rule, professors and teachers don’t grade such assignments, but it doesn’t mean that you don’t have to put your effort into writing it as well as you can. This is a chance for you to show your logic, imagination, creativity, and writing skills, so don’t miss it.

What to Expect from a Diagnostic Essay?

A diagnostic essay isn’t much different from other types of essay assignments that you usually get. It has the same essay structure, which consists of the introduction, body paragraphs, and the conclusion part. It also should have a thesis statement and represent your opinion on the assigned or chosen topic.

Usually, when writing such an essay, you are limited in time (about one hour). So, you need to organize your time to be as productive as possible.

What Strategy to Choose when Writing a Diagnostic Essay?

Once your teacher or instructor assigns you with a topic of your essay, start thinking about your concept. Draft your thesis statement first and then build your outline based on the key points of your future essay. Also, make sure to manage your time and leave at least 5 minutes or so for editing and proofreading your essay in the end.

So, how can one write a diagnostic essay? Are there any rules that you need to stick to? Here, we have a complete guide that will help you to complete this assignment without struggling.

Step 1 – Choose the Topic

Some teachers prefer to let students choose the topic they want to write their essay on while others assign students with particular topics. They might ask you a question which you will have to reply to in the form of an essay.

For those who can choose the topic but don’t know which one to pick, we have prepared the list of diagnostic essay topics:

  1. The biggest challenges for modern students.
  2. Whose success story is an example for you?
  3. Is there a place for hunting in the modern world?
  4. Are there more issues with online studying than benefits?
  5. The problem of racial prejudice in student dorms.
  6. Will remote jobs prevail over in-office jobs in the future?

Step 2 – Create Your Thesis Statement

The majority of students face difficulties when it comes to creating a thesis statement for their essays. Though they need to create lots of statements for multiple essays which they write through the year, not many students can come up with a good idea for thesis statement right from the start.

However, in the case of a diagnostic essay, a thesis statement is a key point that should be written first as you won’t have too much time to think of it through your writing process as you will be very limited in time. So, make sure to create a thesis statement first; this way it will be easier for you to work on your essay.

If, for example, you have a topic that sounds like “Positive and negative influence of social media on socialization,” your thesis statement might be:

Though social media helps people communicate and connect in spite of long distances or cultural diversity, they become the main reason why social awkwardness is spreading among various social groups.

You might also create a rough draft of your thesis statement first if you are not sure about its final phrasing to come back to it after writing the body paragraphs.

Step 3 – Create an Outline

Someone would say that creating an outline when you have tight time limits is not obligatory, but it will actually help you organize and structure your thoughts. When you just start writing your essay, you might have a few worthy ideas on your mind that you might forget in the process. So, write any ideas or thoughts first, at least one per paragraph. Once you do that, you can start writing your essay.

Step 4 – Write an Introduction

Your introduction is what gives the first impression on your reader and affects the final opinion on it. The majority of essays that you create through your school years imply putting your thesis statement into the first paragraph so that to give an understanding of what your paper is about and what your opinion on the problem is. A diagnostic essay is not an exclusion.

Start your essay with a catchy sentence – a hook that attracts the attention of the reader and provides a reason to keep reading. For example, it might be a statistical fact or a quote that is relevant to the topic. Here are a few tips on how to start your essay with a hook sentence.

Step 5 – Write the Body Paragraphs

Commonly, short essays include three body paragraphs. They can include examples, facts, and quotes to support your opinion and claims as well as your thesis statement. The best way to write these paragraphs is to elaborate your opinion with the help of evidence from reliable sources, starting with the strongest argument first.

Start your paragraphs with topic sentences which provide a reader with an idea of what this paragraph is about. End your paragraphs with transition sentences as they smooth the jumps from one subject or idea to another.

Step 6 – Write the Conclusion Part

The conclusion is the part that summarizes all of your findings and restates your statement. It also gathers all of the facts and claims into one final thought that represents your opinion on the problematic or gives the final response to the question. You can paraphrase your thesis statement to include it in your conclusion part and also mention all the key findings of your essay. Don’t repeat your previous sentences – form them into one general summary of your text.

Step 7 – Proofread and Edit Your Essay

Once you have everything written, reread your essay, and make edits. It’s almost impossible to write an essay that won’t require any further editing, so make sure to manage your time and leave some time for this step.

Final Thoughts

A diagnostic paper is not as difficult as other types of essays, for example, an analytical essay, as it doesn’t require conducting any research. It will be beneficial to include some facts or data, but you are not obligated to. Moreover, you shouldn’t worry much as such essay won’t be graded. However, preparing for such an essay won’t hurt. You can even try pre-writing your essay in order to show the best results.

Writing In Education: Tips and Resources

writing in education tips

When you think about academic writing, what words come to mind? Inaccessible, stuffy and boring are some of the words I think of. Writing is a difficult craft no matter which genre you choose, but academic writing presents a special set of challenges. Much of the research that academics do is poorly written. So writers often end up adopting this same style in their own writing. Also, there’s the desire to be taken seriously as an academic and students to apply an extra coat of hyper-intellectual phrasing to their work.

Academic writing is at its best when it’s clean, simple and easy to understand even to the layperson. The academic writer should become skilled at taking complex concepts and breaking them down into bite-sized pieces. Otherwise, no matter how incredible and innovative their idea is, it runs the risk of becoming lost in overly academic language.

Here are some tips and resources to help you become a better academic writer:

Academic Coaching & Writing is a consulting agency that helps writers craft and structure their work more effectively. You can hire a consultant for one-on-one coaching or you can glean the pearls of wisdom from their ample blog that covers everything from “Using APA Style in Academic Writing” to “How Academic Writers Lose Confidence and How to Regain It”.

The Royal Literary Fund offers an excellent Dissertation Guide with practical and conceptual tips such as:

  • When should I start writing?
  • Note-taking and writing – what’s the link?
  • How do I give order to a jumble of notes?
  • How do I stay motivated?
  • How can I revise my original structure?
  • What is the importance of feedback?
  • Where can I find guidelines on style?
  • When do I stop writing?
  • + links to more academic writing resources.

Write a lot

There’s no substitute for practice. The more you write, the better you will get at writing. Write every day. For most, the secret to finding the time to write every day is waking up early and getting an hour or more of writing in before the rest of the world notices you’re awake and starts bugging you. Make sure you make a comfortable space for yourself to work. Physical comfort plays an important part in keeping you motivated to write. A comfortable chair, a heater/air-conditioner and a ritual cup of coffee or tea can help ease you into your writing time.

Read a lot

The more you read, the better you’ll get at sorting through different styles to decide which ones you want to adopt and which ones you don’t. A good reading list is the best kind of classroom for a writer. Read on diverse topics including those outside of your area. Does someone manage to use statistics in a way that engages the reader? Does someone’s research impress you? How can you work these qualities into your own writing?

Stay current

Reading a lot of other people’s work also helps keep you up-to-date with current trends and emerging concepts. A big misconception about academic writing is that it’s all historical – based on past events and thoughts. In fact, academics have a lot of pressure to stay current. Even if your area is Ancient Egyptian Politics – the questions you should be asking are: How can this knowledge be applied today? Why is it relevant now? How does this information help us understand or solve a question or problem in our own time?

Write the way you speak

Probably the biggest complaint about academic writers is that the writing is too…academic. Imagine that you’re at a party and are trying to explain a concept from your book to someone in a crowded room with a lot of distractions. How would you explain your idea in a way that would maintain the person’s interest? Trade long overly complex sentences for shorter ones. Ditch the fancy vocabulary in favor of the vernacular. Use action verbs and avoid over use of past participle and passive voice. When you’re finished writing, read what you’ve written out loud. If it’s hard to say, it’s probably hard to read. Re-write until it flows smoothly off the tongue and the page.

Use social media

Write blog posts, Facebook or Twitter posts on your topic. See what kind of response and feedback you get. Sometimes people can post comments that lead you to new research in your area that you weren’t aware of before. It can also help you gauge the effect of your writing: is it engaging readers and creating dialogue? Which posts stood out and got responses? Which posts fell flat? Another benefit of posting your work is to help you achieve stages of completion. Rather than thinking of a whole book or dissertation that’s hundreds of pages, post chapters and excerpts. It can help keep you motivated and guide your next steps.

Don’t plagiarize

There can be a fuzzy line between which ideas are yours and which ideas are someone else’s as you do your research. Short of copying someone else’s work word for word, plagiarism can be hard for a writer to identify. There are resources available to help you make sure you maintain your academic integrity by understanding the different forms of plagiarism and how to avoid them. Developing excellent citation skills can help you a lot in this area. Harvard offers several excellent guides on how to avoid plagiarism.

Use a reference manager

Since academic writing is research-based, you’ll need a way to organize and manage your references. Keeping your references well-organized also helps you to avoid plagiarism (see above). Try on of these popular reference managers:

Endnote:

  • Maintains and organizes all your references.
  • Downloads PDFs to your references.
  • Make comments and annotations on your sources.
  • Choose from 6,000 bibliography formats.
  • Automatic formatting available for several types of documents.
  • Share with colleagues and professors and other researchers in your field.
  • Get advice on which journals are the best fit for your research.

Mendeley

  • Syncs across all your devices.
    Access sources by using keyword search.
    Highlight and annotate sources.
  • Use on or offline with full access to PDFs.
  • Share with other researchers, colleagues or professors.