A Well-written Academic Essay

From the W&M Writing Committee

A well-written academic essay:

  • Shows an awareness of the audience's needs and expectations within the context of a specific assignment and/or discipline.
  • Presents a convincing argument that is analytic, interpretive, or explanatory in nature and exhibits independent thought and engagement with the subject matter.
  • Articulates a focused thesis.
  • Supports the thesis with persuasive evidence.
  • Uses logical transitions to guide the reader through the stages of a compelling argument.
  • Has an effective introduction and conclusion.
  • Contains well-structured paragraphs.
  • Uses concrete and precise language.
  • Uses an engaging, concise style characterized by strong verbs and active voice.
  • Shows the writer's conscious command of the elements of a sentence by avoiding disruptive grammatical errors, such as dangling modifiers, subject/verb disagreement, vague or ambiguous pronoun antecedents, and mistakes in punctuation.
  • Synthesizes outside sources, when used, into the larger argument.
  • Uses appropriate documentation form.