The Essentials: Writing an essay

Essays are important to teens, whether it's making the grade or applying to college. Patty Bradshaw, a literature teacher at Harlem High School, offers these pointers for essay writing:

-- Write from the heart. If there is no passion in your writing, readers will notice. Put a piece of yourself into your words: That's what makes reading an essay enjoyable.

-- Use consistent and appropriate tone. A lot of people have bipolar writing, switching between a calm tone and agitated tone. Don't do that, because it will confuse readers.

-- Watch subject-and-verb agreement. Do not say: "Anyone can do it if they try." The word "one" in "anyone" should hint to you that the subject needs to be singular. It should be: "Anyone can do it if he or she tries."

-- Check spelling. This seems like common sense, but you would be surprised how many essays teachers receive with misspellings. Some of the most commonly misspelled words are: acceptable, believe, category, definitely and exhilarate. Don't rely on Microsoft Word for your grammar needs.

Amber Forbes is a senior at Harlem High School

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