Some Interesting Writing Sites and Articles:

-THE UNIVERSITY OF VICTORIA WRITER'S GUIDE Fantastic site of UVIC for Writing.                

-THE WRITING CENTER, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Great site for practicing writing 
-HOW TO WRITE AN ESSAY  Student Support and Development Service, University of Leicester.
 Power Point Presentation from Slideshare.

-GUIDE TO ESSAY WRITING Quite complete guide, Slideshare.



-50 Years of Stupid Grammar Advice. Article by Geoffrey K. Pullum.

-THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE by William Strunk, Jr.

Worst case scenario:
'I have to write a composition/essay and never been taught how to do it' syndrom??

 ...Here's some help!


1. Introduction Paragraph

What is an introduction paragraph?
The introduction paragraph is the first paragraph of your essay.
What does it do?
It introduces the main idea of your essay. A good opening paragraph captures the interest of your reader and tells why your topic is important.
How do I write one?
1. Write the thesis statement. The main idea of the essay is stated in a single sentence called the thesis statement. You must limit your entire essay to the topic you have introduced in your thesis statement.
2. Provide some background information about your topic. You can use interesting facts, quotations, or definitions of important terms you will use later in the essay.
Hockey has been a part of life in Canada for over 120 years. It has evolved into an extremely popular sport watched and played by millions of Canadians. The game has gone through several changes since hockey was first played in Canada.
2. Supporting Paragraphs
What are supporting paragraphs?
Supporting paragraphs make up the main body of your essay.
What do they do?
They develop the main idea of your essay.
How do I write them?
1. List the points that develop the main idea of your essay.
2. Place each supporting point in its own paragraph.
3. Develop each supporting point with facts, details, and examples.
To connect your supporting paragraphs, you should use special transition words. Transition words link your paragraphs together and make your essay easier to read. Use them at the beginning and end of your paragraphs.
Examples of transition words that can help you to link your paragraphs together:
For listing different points: FIRST, SECOND, THIRD…
Like all good paragraphs, each supporting paragraph should have a topic sentence, supporting sentences, and a summary sentence.

3. Summary Paragraph

What is a summary paragraph?
The summary paragraph comes at the end of your essay after you have finished developing your ideas. The summary paragraph is often called a "conclusion."
What does it do?
It summarizes or restates the main idea of the essay. You want to leave the reader with a sense that your essay is complete.
How do I write one?
1. Restate the strongest points of your essay that support your main idea.
2. Conclude your essay by restating the main idea in different words.
3. Give your personal opinion or suggest a plan for action.

Overall, the changes that occurred in hockey have helped to improve the game. Hockey is faster and more exciting as a result of changes in the past 120 years. For these reasons, modern hockey is a better game than hockey in the 1890s.
To learn more, check this great free software writing tutorial site: WRITING DEN.

-Grammar Girl. Quick&Dirty Tips for Better Writing. (You can either read or listen to writing tips).

Tips for Successful In-Class/Exam Essay Writing
(Learn How to Manage Your Time)
Your very first step in writing an answer to an in-class essay question is to plan your time to answer it. First, consider the value of the question in terms of the time available. A 12-point essay on a 30-point quiz given in a 75 minute class will mean that you should plan to write the essay in 1/3 of the time available - approximately 25 minutes. Here is a suggested breakdown for planning how to use your 25 minutes:

10% of the time   
reading the question carefully, deciding what answer is expected, outlining the answer. With 25 minutes, you should take no more than 3 minutes to do this.
80% of the time   
answering the question by filling in the outline. With 25 minutes, you should take about 19 minutes to do this.
10% of the time   
editing for major grammar mistakes. With 25 minutes, you should take no more than 3 minutes to do this.

Test-taking tip: Find out in advance how many essay questions you will have to write and what percentage of the test is involved. Plan your 10-80-10 time breakdown in advance and bring a watch so you won't have to do valuable calculations in class and waste more time.

Your second step is to do the activities listed under the first 10% of the time -- reading the question and outlining an answer.

The third step is to write. Follow these tips for writing:

1.    Do not stop to edit as you go. There isn't time. If you think you're unsure about a word or a grammatical structure or a fact, draw a line under it. You can return to it in the editing time.

2.    Write simply, which does not imply poorly. Simplicity and clarity are the two characteristics you want to strive for. Of course your aim is to demonstrate you're a 5th year student. Don't write an essay that you could have written back in 3rd year. Use structures, style and vocabulary you've learnt according to your B2 level.

3.    Write in paragraphs. It helps to think that a good, well-edited paragraph of 6-10 sentences should take about 7 minutes to produce. This is the goal you should be striving for.

4.    Keep your handwriting neat, but do not make artwork out of it. In particular, it is important to differentiate vowels in your handwriting (a, e, i, o, u). If you make a mistake, draw a line through it and continue. Don't waste time erasing or using white-out. Unless you are told otherwise, it is ALWAYS best to write on every other line.

5.    Use a dark writing instrument - a very dark pen, blue or black ink. Never red or pencil, please. Bring extras with you to the test.

6.    If you get stuck filling in one part of your outline, jump to another part of the outline and work there for a while.

The last step is to edit. Tips for editing include:

1.    Do not skip the editing step. Even if you don't finish your essay, it is better to turn in a well-edited 75% finished essay than a poorly edited 80% essay.
2.    Focus your editing. Reread what you have written one time. As you find areas that you were unsure of, fix them. Concentrate on editing verbs and articles. That is all you will have time for. The things that you should edit verbs for are: tense, S-V agreement, and verb form.
3.    Do not make elaborate erasures as you edit. Draw lines through mistakes. Use simple editing symbols to make changes.

And, of course, DON'T FORGET to write your name and group.

More Useful Grammar Tips by Prof. Dori Martínez:



Before you start to write, plan the content, organization, and the type of language you are going to use.
  • Think about the topic.
  • Remember the topic vocabulary.
  • Discuss your ideas with a partner or in groups whenever possible.
  • List the main points before you start writing.
  • Think of examples to back up each point.
  • Decide how many paragraphs you need.
  • Decide on the content of each paragraph and list the main points.
  • Use linkers to connect you ideas  (Firstly, Secondly, Personally I think, …)
Before you start writing, decide which tense(s) you need for the text type. E.g. Which tenses would you need to write a story, to describe the plot of a film/book, to write an article (‘My ideal house’), for a diary entry?

·         Before you start writing, decide what style to use:
Formal: for a letter or e-mail, for a ‘for and against’ composition, for an opinion composition, for a report.
Informal: for a letter or e-mail to a friend, for a letter or e-mail to a TV/radio ‘chat’ programme.
·         Remember the key aspects of each style:
Formal:no contractions, no colloquial expressions, more formal expressions E.g. Top sum up, etc.
Informal: use contractions and colloquial expressions.
·         List useful expressions and linkers for the kind of text.


When you write your text, try to make it clear, vivid and imaginative.
  • Make your language more vivid (use adjectives and adverbs to make a text ‘come alive’, especially when you are telling a story or describing.)
  • The more varied vocabulary you use, the more interesting your writing will be. Use a wide selection of nouns, adjectives and verbs.


When you are happy with the content of your text, check it for mistakes. Make a checklist of your own typical mistakes and memorize it. That way you’ll find it easier to spot and correct them.
  • Check your spelling
  • Check your grammar and vocabulary.
Typical mistakes: verb agreement, word order, use of tenses, prepositions, using a formal word where the style is informal, and viceversa.
  • Check your punctuation.

1.      Plan four or five paragraphs: a general introduction where you present your opinion, the main reasons why you agree/disagree, and a conclusion.
2.     List your reasons (‘for’ or ‘against’) before you start writing. Two or three main reasons is enough.
3.     Start paragraph 2 with you main reason (Firstly, …). Use a linker (besides, what is more,..) to add a related reason.
4.     Back up your reasons with clear examples.
5.     Use a formal style.
6.     Think of how to express your conclusion, i.e., a summary of your opinion. This should follow logically from the examples given.