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Read a lot! Read various textbooks and articles to get different writing styles from various authors. 

Practice writing essays to online questions. 

Peer marking from two or more different peers over your essay, and mark theirs in return to get a sense of what others are doing that you may not be, as well as where your strengths lie compared to others. If you don't understand a part of a peer's essay, take note of why it makes no sense and avoid making that mistake in your own future essays.

At the end of writing your essay, go over it and cut out anything that deep down you know is not necessary. Even if it physically hurts because you worked hard on that sentence / paragraph. If it's not helping your point and the clarity of your essay, cut it.

Unfortunately, there is no 'quick fix' answer. Practice, reviewing your work and others', as well as really knowing what you are discussing, are the best ways to improve the coherence of your arguments.

Good luck!

To improve this you need to write more effectively and more precise. It's worth having a look at previously written works. Always proof read before publishing

When answering questions for history for example you need to make sure your argument is very clear. Make sure the text is simple and easy to understand, Have a defined introduction, middle and conclusion. It's always  wise to ask someone to proof read your work. Just remember to check for basics such as: Capital letters, correct use of articles (On, Over, Up or Down), not to say the same things twice, break up your sentences with different uses of commas or semi colons or colons. Use a theraurus if you get stuck for spellings or different words. Hope this has a 

Grammar. Always, always grammar. Punctuation is so important for clear and lucid communication. Think of it as the rhythm or heartbeat of your writing: it is utterly essential, the backbone of written communication. Also, vocabulary. A wide range of vocabulary is important for both understanding questions and responding thoughtfully to them. Finally, never underestimate simplicity in an answer. Do not overcomplicate! 

Hi,

Two small things might be:

1. Don't assume your reader knows what you know. Your teacher has probably been talking about AMS and STV for a while and definitely knows what it is, but it's nice to have some background. It doesn't need to be long. For example. 'The use of AMS, where each voter has two votes, can be more proportional ...'. Try writing as if you're handing it in to a family member or friend, rather than your teacher. This can also help with clear explanations.

2. Mentioning 'however' too many times close together can be a bit like a ping-pong match and can be a bit confusing for the reader! If you replace it,  rearrange it, or get rid of it altogether you will see your writing become clearer. By the time you use your 'however', 'on the contrary', 'nevertheless' or 'although', you should already have made a good point (AMS is simple because....') but then you spring your clinching argument and convince me otherwise (however..). Also, try leaving it out altogether. This will force you to think what it is you are trying to say and what you want your main point to be.

There's a lot of advice here from Annabel, Dan and myself! Try to re-write the essay using a few points at a time and see how it goes! All the best.


Hello again,

I have read through the essay you sent. While it is fairly clear already I think there are areas you can improve. You use a lot of very short sentences, which while generally a good thing for clarity can be jarring and take away from the fluency of your writing when used to such a large extent. Don't start using very long complex sentences all the time either, but sometimes a short extra clause on a sentence to add information would be better than a totally new sentence. For instance "Another example of this is UKIP, despite them not being an extremist party they had won seats in the Welsh Assembly elections. Despite them, not winning any official votes they had gained 7 seats through the ‘top-up’ vote." could have been expresses more fluently- 'Another example of this is UKIP who won seats in the Welsh Assembly elections by gaining seven seats through the 'top-up' vote despite not winning any official votes.'

Also, when you use abbreviations such as FPTP you should indicate that you're going to do this by putting it in brackets next to the full title the first time you use it. So the first time you should wirte "First past the post (FPTP)" and then from that point on you can just use FPTP. You should do this with all abbreviations of this kind.

I think it would also help the clarity of your essay if you gave clear indicators of where you are in your argument. For instance by starting a paragraph with a line like "An argument in favor of the FPTP system is..." and then the next one something like "A further benefit of FPTP is...". Sentences like these just help the reader know what you're hoping to demonstrate and show that you're answering the essay question.

I hope this is helpful! Good luck with your history essay!

Take a tip from the Sun newspaper (and the like)...

Set out the argument clearly in the first sentence. Keep the first sentence short and no more than 17 words long. And then use the next paragraphs to expand on your theme.

Avoid using too many commas, never use semi-colons and certain avoid exclamation marks. Abbreviations are for short hand, not for clarity. The same is true for terms like "etc." which is a lazy way of telling the reader to do your work for you.

Clarity comes from good planning. The Sun newspaper writers are some of the best at creating a clear story by using a pyramid structure. Start with the most important part of the story, which we know as the headline. The next sentence tells you more. The next paragraphs develop each thread of the story or argument.

The only time you need to diverge from this method is at the end when you need to conclude. The conclusion shows your balance of arguments.

In essence, it boils down to good planning, proper, crisp sentences and answering the question from the start.

Here is an essay I've written. However, its for politics. Im writing a history essay today. Thanks a lot for the advice much appreciated. 

Hello,

I would say that the best way to improve written communication is to practice it! The more you write on a given subject the more likely you are to write with clarity and confidence. Also, don't try to use overly complicated language (appropriate subject-specific jargon is good, but throwing in long words for the sake of it could make your writing less clear). The advice Archana gives about writing as though you are going to give a presentation is really good- I always read my essay out loud to ensure they make sense.

It would be a lot easier to give advice on your written communication if I could see your writing. I would be happy to read a little of an essay or something and give more specific advice if you'd like?

Hi pretam,

A good tip someone once gave me is to write as if you are speaking or giving a presentation - if you read out loud what you have written and it doesn't quite make sense then it will not make sense to your reader. If this is a new issue for you, it might be because of a lack of confidence regarding the question or topic? If so, go over key points to grasp the nature of the topic.

For clarity, try to avoid unnecessary evidence/information. It might help to fill the page up, but if is not relevant it is not helpful. Stick to key points, supply the evidence, and explain what it means, what it demonstrates etc. Why does it matter? Ask yourself 'so?' each time you make a point. If you understand the topic you can make a convincing argument - try not to lose it.

Or, if presenting an argument is not the main issue for you, it might be you are writing less clearly because of the structure. For example, jumping from one point to another in a random or confusing manner? Try to link the last sentence of a paragraph with the opening sentence of the next paragraph to help create flow. Your introduction and conclusion should be similar.

Again, reading out loud can help with this - if you hear yourself jumping around or going off on a tangent then you'll spot where and how to write with more control.

Hope this helps.
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