15 Common Mistakes in Writing Academic Essays

When you are a student, there is a great space to grow in your writing skills. However, there are also many ways you can err in your essay. So, for you to keep it in mind, here are the fifteen most common mistakes a student can unknowingly make in your academic essay.

Misunderstanding the instructions

The first thing you want to do is to figure out what you are expected to present. If you do not want to revise or write your essay from scratch, you need to make sure you are doing it right.

In this case, you do not start reading and especially writing anything before you read all the instructions carefully and understand what you should do.

Just glimpsing at your instructions instead of reading them thoughtfully is the initial point of your paper, from which everything can go downhill.

Descriptive thesis statement

Your thesis statement must be clear, concise, and argumentative (it is a thesis statement, not a thesis description after all).

You need to give your opinion on the matter you discuss in your essay and say what the reasons are to be so. A common mistake is rewriting the title of your paper and saying that the essay will be about that.

Such a thesis statement gives no idea about what your opinion is to your reader and provides no chance of getting an A to you.

No flow

All the elements of your essay must be in the right places and there has to be a connection between them.

Apart from the thematic connection, you have to establish the logical connection by using transitional words, such as however, therefore, thus, hence, additionally, etc.

These words make your paper flow and connect your ideas to the central statement. Omitting them is a mistake that can cause gaps in your argument.


Another common mistake is not rereading the essay you wrote. Believe it or not, but there are plenty of typos and accidentally misspelled words you didn’t notice while writing.

Whatever your spelling skills are, it is almost unavoidable, as it happens to everyone. For that reason, you should go through your essay before submitting it manually or with the help of spell checking software you can easily find online. Nonetheless, it does not hurt to revise it and takes little time.

Mistakes in formatting

Usually, when students are assigned an essay, they have to write it in a particular formatting style. The format includes specific headers, a title page, in-text citations, and references to the sources you used.

It may seem like quite a headache to learn it at first, but as soon as you complete several papers in a certain format, it will be easier for you. Nonetheless, the most popular referencing styles have a tendency of updating small details, so take your time to check the guidelines from time to time.


Academic writing does not accept vague language. If you want to emphasize something you state, do not use such words as best, worst, good, most, really, and all other lexical units that bring vagueness to your claims.

To avoid generalization, you need to find facts and figures that can support your argument and refer to them in your bibliography. It will leave your reader with no questions about the validity of the point you want to make.

Casual language

You need to watch your language while writing an academic essay. The words that will not work in your writing are contractions (it’s, can’t, etc.), slang words, phrasal verbs, and stylistic devices. Contractions make your writing look lazy.

Word choice and stylistic devices, in turn, can also make your writing ambiguous. All the words you choose must stand for their original denotation for your argument to be constructive and objective.

Weak structure

Your essay must be organized on micro and macro levels. This means you need to follow a specific structure within both the whole text and every particular paragraph. You cannot switch the structural elements that make your essay compelling and constructive.

Also, do not forget to include every element in your essay. The exception may be a narrative assignment, in which you can put in some more creativity. However, if you need to prove a point, pay attention to the structure.

Wrong essay type

There are many different types of academic essays, and if you are assigned to complete something specific, such as a reflection essay, comparison essay, or admission letter, you need to check out the principles of writing it and demonstrate your understanding in the thesis statement.

Pay attention to the essay type because the conclusion you need to arrive at and the representation of facts depends on it a lot.

Unreliable sources

You can think you did everything right and cited all the sources correctly, but your essay for some reason does not score a good grade. The matter, in this case, may be in the sources you chose to trust.

If you cite an opinion article, a social media post, or a blog, your chances of getting an excellent grade decrease. A reliable source must have an author, publication date, and all the other information about its origin that proves its credibility. Ideally, it must be a recent scholarly article that has a digital object identifier (DOI).

Time management issues

It is a mistake to start working on your essay the night before it’s due. You can either fail to finish it, destroy your sleeping pattern, or write something mediocre and illogical.

Your assignments are usually given in advance so you can put some time and effort into it, so do not disregard that. However, if the situation is unavoidable, you can use help from a professional academic essay writing company and still nail your assignment.

First or second person narration

As mentioned earlier, your essay must present an objective and unbiased point of view. For that reason, use third-person narration. The first-person perspective appears as bias because you express your own opinion and experience as arguments.

The second-person narration may appear as a fallacy, as it is an appeal to the reader. Biases undermine your argument, so try sticking to an objective standpoint.

No conclusion

When you make a great argument, do not forget to drop the mic at the end. A conclusion is a logical end of your essay, and you do not need additional research to do it.

However, after you are done with the body, you have to rewrite your thesis statement and repeat that you are right after all. It is as important as all the other elements of the essay.

Topic sentences missing

A topic sentence is a mini-thesis statement for each body paragraph. Logically, the topic sentence opens a body paragraph.

State the main idea of the paragraph in the first sentence and only then start to elaborate. It is important that the first and the last sentences of a body paragraph must be your original ideas, so do not cite anything in them.

Inappropriate citation

If you do not cite everything you used in your essay, you may accidentally plagiarize. Whether it is just an idea, a paraphrased sentence, or a direct quote, do not forget about in-text citations that must briefly refer to one of the items in your bibliography.

Most of these mistakes are easy to avoid or fix, so read the draft you have written and try to find out if anything looks strange. After you write several essays like that, you will avoid such mistakes automatically.

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