Monday, August 8th, 2022

Writing Skills


College students should be able to write papers that have a clearly identified thesis statement in the introduction and content should be logically developed. The content should also respond to the stated guidelines for the assignment. The conclusion should summarize or clarify the main points of the essay and build on the thesis statement. When evaluating student papers, instructors focus on content, organization, and development of ideas first, then style and format.

Good writing includes the following characteristics:

  • There is an identifiable and logical pattern of organization (point by point, chronological order, comparison/contrast, cause and effect, etc.).
  • The introduction gives an overview of the topic and explains the paper’s organizational structure.
  • The body of the paper covers each sub-topic in-depth and all ideas and paragraphs are well developed. (Paragraphs are at least 5-7 sentences.)
  • Each section (sub-topic) is complete and leaves no questions unanswered in the reader’s mind.
  • All definitions, technical jargon, and acronyms are explained.
  • The summary ties the conclusion to the introduction by further interpreting the paper’s thesis statement.
  • Language is simple and direct, not wordy (padded with useless, redundant phrases). Terminology is appropriate.
  • The writing is relatively error-free (grammar, mechanics, punctuation, and spelling are correct).
  • Overall, the paper demonstrates a high level of critical thinking skills.
  • The writer’s perspective is fresh, objective, unbiased, and not judgmental.

Your writing ability is probably the skill that is most critical to your success in college. By delaying the taking of writing classes, you are not allowing yourself a good foundation for your academic success. Instructors assume that students have writing skills adequate for college level work. You will do yourself a disservice if you do not acquire these skills early. Use the links on this page and the other Tutorial pages to supplement the skills you are developing in your classes.