Tag Archives: academic writing

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.

Improve Your Academic Writing With 7 Simple Tricks

improve your academic writing

There is virtually no such thing as being naturally good at academic writing. It’s a skill honed over years of training, starting from your first expository essay in middle school and gaining momentum throughout high school and university.

The good news is that it’s never too late to learn. If you’re struggling with your academic writing or would simply like to improve the skills you already have, here are some tricks to get you writing better essays:

Craft a clear thesis

One of the biggest favors you can do for yourself is to spend time fine-tuning your thesis statement. The clearer, more well-defined and specific it is, the easier your essay will be to write. That’s because you’ll have a good idea of exactly what to look for. On the other hand, the more vague and broad it is, the harder it will be to research and find supporting evidence for it.

For example: “Young children who are exposed to reading in their home environments tend to perform better academically throughout their education.” vs. “Reading is good for you.” For the first one, you know what age group you’ll be researching, what kind of evidence you need to support it, the types of academic journals you can look for to find evidence to support it, etc.

The second statement could apply to any age group or demographic and could mean anything from staving off Alzheimer’s to alleviating depression. It’s just too broad to know where to begin.

Make it readable

The common belief is that academic writing has to be stiff, boring and full of words that require a dictionary to understand. Actually, an essay’s greatest strength is in its readability. If the ideas are conveyed in simple terms in a way that flows and with supporting evidence, that’s the best you can ask of an academic piece.

Overusing of sophisticated terminology may confuse your reader and make it difficult to understand your thesis. Don’t let your point get buried under unnecessary academic frills.

But don’t be too casual

Though you don’t want to be too stiff, you don’t want to be too casual either. Slang, curse words and colloquial phrases don’t belong in an academic paper. Keep the point of view in the third person present or simple past.

Don’t use the first or second person. Ex: “The beginning of the 21st century can be defined by the use and misuse of social media.” vs. “These days, you need to be careful who you friend on Facebook.” The first one is appropriately formal, the second one is too casual for an academic paper.

Stay objective

Writing an academic paper is a little bit like being a diplomat. You have to make a statement but at the same time tow the line between making an objective observation and stating a subjective opinion. An academic essay should always be objective.

Blanket statements that express bias are not appropriate. Ex: “All Republican politicians are corrupt.” That’s a biased statement and an accusation. It’s also too broad. Try this instead: “Widespread allegations of voter fraud in Florida districts during the 2004 elections have cast a long shadow of corruption on the Republican party.”

Avoid subjective statements that include “all”, “every” and “always”. Instead use objective phrases such as “It’s likely that…”, “It’s possible that…” and “Evidence suggests that…”.

Quote sparingly

There’s nothing wrong with using quotes. At the very least, they show that you’ve done some research. But it’s all too easy to cross the line into over-quoting. Of course it sounds good coming from the mouth of an expert and it’s tempting to let them do all the talking. But the essay is yours and the professor wants to read your words and your perspective on the subject. Over-quoting not only drowns out your voice, but it robs you of the chance to practice writing. And the more you practice writing, the better you’ll get.

Be specific

When producing evidence to support your thesis statement, be as specific as possible. Don’t say “A lot of people use alternative forms of medicine these days.” Instead say “According to a study by the American Journal of Medicine, from 2000-2010, use of alternative and holistic medicine has increased in the United States by 23 percent.” Fill your essay with credible information.

Use numbers, statistics, dates, facts, titles, names of institutions and experts. These things lend authority to your writing, making your research so transparent that the reader can essentially trace your steps and verify your research for themselves. No fuzzy blanket statements or fabricated opinions, just solid facts.

Leave time to edit and proofread

Probably one of the most overlooked skills in academic writing is editing. That may be because of a common ailment called procrastination. You wouldn’t be the first or the last student to write their essay at the last minute, but by doing so, you lose a chance to edit. Editing requires time – not only the time it takes to edit, but time in between the writing and the editing process to let your thoughts settle, so you can look at your words with a fresh perspective.

By doing this, you’re more likely to spot grammar, punctuation and spelling errors, identify and fix awkward phrasing and catch any contradictory theories that don’t add to or support your thesis. An essay that’s been edited at least 3 times is usually good to go. Make sure you leave time for this process. There’s really no substitute for it.

For a helpful guide to common grammar errors, crafting an argument and other writing tips, check out this link from the University of Essex.