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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.

How to Write Faster and More Effectively

write better faster
Learning how to write effectively typically means slowing down to take your time, do the research and choose your words carefully. Although writing clearly and effectively is the goal for any writer, learning how to write faster can also be valuable skill. Here we’ll take a look at 10 tips to help speed up your writing and make it more effective overall.

1. Write What You Know

The best way to be able to write more quickly is to write on a topic you are already familiar with. Although this isn’t always an option, seize the opportunity whenever it comes up. Even if your assignment is on something you know nothing about, conduct some initial research to see if you do have a connection to the subject somewhere. For example, if your assignment is writing about the origins of the civil rights movement, use your own experience with discrimination or the experiences of friends and family as a basis to draw parallels to the early days of the civil rights movement with current issues of today. An essay on the impact of team sports can easily be connected to the summer you spent playing ping-pong or your own elementary school T-Ball team.

2. Dictate When Possible

There are a number of software packages that allow users to dictate directly into a word processing program. These programs can take some time to master and they adapt to your pattern of speech as you use them, so don’t expect perfect results your first time out. Instead of cracking it open as you’re beginning your big essay project for the mid-term exams, use it for a few weeks on other projects or just for fun in order to find out how to make it work more effectively. Once you’ve gotten the hang of it, you can use it to crank out essays, term papers and even your thesis in no time flat.

3. Don’t Worry About Mistakes on the Rough Draft

As you begin to write the rough draft, don’t worry about proper word choices, grammatical tense agreement or whether or not to use a semi-colon. Instead, simply get the thoughts, ideas and concepts on paper. Ignore that inner critic hissing on your shoulder and keep your hands moving. Try to keep up with the narrative you have in your mind. You can go back to clean things up and tweak verbiage later – getting the ideas you have onto paper will help your paper to develop more quickly.

4. Develop an Outline System That Works For You

Traditional outlines simply don’t work for everyone, but that doesn’t mean that outlines are worthless. Find a system that achieves the same goal but which fits your own writing or creative style. Writing a few sentences and using lists for each paragraph may be the best method for you, or simply jotting down ideas you can rearrange may be more your style. Find what works for you and use it.

5. Watch Your Adverbs

Using adverbs may bulk up your essay, but it also makes your paper less effective. A person isn’t very poor, they’re impoverished. Concentration camps weren’t very bad, they were horrific. The sun isn’t very hot, it’s scorching. Find better descriptions for common adverbs of degree in order to polish your writing.

6. Set a Timer

According to several studies, people work best with focused concentration for about 25 minutes at a time. Gab a kitchen timer, wind it to the 25 minute mark and GO. Write your heart out and don’t stop typing for the full 25 minutes. If you get stumped or hit a wall, move on to another section of the paper or write ‘What I really want to say is…’ and then finish that sentence. Even if you end up scraping half of what you’ve written, this type of focused creativity will not only get you farther into your essay, it can even result in some surprising gems of inspiration.

7. Focus on Writing Alone

When you write, do it alone. Don’t try writing while your friends are over, or while you’re watching a movie with someone. Make the time to sit alone and focus on your writing. Keeping clear of distractions will help you to focus more effectively and, in the end, getting it done will give you more free time.

8. Conduct Timed Research

Research can be the downfall of many students when it’s time to sit down and write. They may start with the best intentions but when conducting research online, it’s easy to click from one page to the next and suddenly find yourself playing a Super Mario emulator. Set a timer for your research, separate from writing time, and stick to it. If you find yourself still gravitating towards pages of distraction, set up a list of blocked websites through parental control software or time management tools such as LeechBlock or Cold Turkey.

9. Set Small Goals

Chopping your writing assignment up into smaller pieces can help boost productivity and speeds along the writing process. Dying for another cup of coffee? Finish this paragraph first. Want to get up and stretch your legs? Just pound out the rest of this outline so you know where to start when the break is over. Thinking of your assignment as a series of smaller milestones will help make it easier – and quicker – to finish.

10. Rewrite As You Edit

Combine your rewriting and editing step into one and clean up your spelling and grammar as you revise your writing. The best way to do this is to read your essay out loud, as if you were simply trying to educate or persuade a friend. Combining this final revision step can easily shave time off your total writing time and reading the essay out loud also ensures everything flows seamlessly.