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How to Write Top-Graded Essays in English

How to Write Top-Graded Essays in English

  • 5-minute read
  • 7th December 2022

Writing English papers and essays can be challenging at first, but with the right tools, knowledge, and resources, you can improve your writing skills. In this article, you’ll get some tips and tricks on how to write a top-graded essay in English.

Have you heard the saying “practice makes perfect”? Well, it’s wrong. Practice does make improvement, though. Whether you’re taking an English composition class, studying for the IELTS or TOEFL , or preparing to study abroad, you can always find new ways to practice writing in English.

If you practice on a daily basis, you’ll be exercising the skills you know while challenging yourself to learn even more. There are many ways you can practice writing in English daily:

  • Keep a daily journal.
  • Write practice essays.
  • Do creative writing exercises .

Read in English

The best way to improve your writing is to read English books, news articles, essays, and other media. By reading the writing of other authors (whether they’re native or non-native speakers), you’re exposing yourself to different writing styles and learning new vocabulary. Be sure to take notes when you’re reading so you can write down things you don’t know (e.g., new words or phrases) or sentences or phrases you like.

For example, maybe you need to write a paper related to climate change. By reading news articles or research papers on this topic, you can learn relevant vocabulary and knowledge you can use in your essay.

FluentU has a great article with a list of 20 classic books you can read in English for free.

Immerse Yourself in English

If you don’t live in an English-speaking country, you may be thinking, “How can I immerse myself in English?” There are many ways to overcome this challenge. The following strategies are especially useful if you plan to study or travel abroad:

  • Follow YouTube channels that focus on learning English or that have English speakers.
  • Use social media to follow English-speaking accounts you are interested in.
  • Watch movies and TV shows in English or use English subtitles when watching your favorite shows.
  • Participate in your English club or salon at school to get more practice.
  • Become an English tutor at a local school (teaching others is the best way to learn).

By constantly exposing yourself to English, you will improve your writing and speaking skills.

Visit Your Writing Center

If you’re enrolled at a university, you most likely have a free writing center you can use if you need help with your assignments. If you don’t have a writing center, ask your teacher for help and for information on local resources.

Use Your Feedback

After you submit an English writing assignment, you should receive feedback from your teacher on how you did. Use this feedback to your advantage . If you haven’t been getting feedback on your writing, ask your teacher to explain what issues they are seeing in your writing and what you could do to improve.

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Be Aware of Your Common Writing Mistakes

If you review your feedback on writing assignments, you might notice some recurring mistakes you are making. Make a list of common mistakes you tend to make when writing, and use it when doing future assignments. Some common mistakes include the following:

  • Grammar errors (e.g., not using articles).
  • Incorrect vocabulary (e.g., confusing however and therefore ).
  • Spelling mistakes (e.g., writing form when you mean from ).
  • Missing essay components (e.g., not using a thesis statement in your introduction).
  • Not using examples in your body paragraphs.
  • Not writing an effective conclusion .

This is just a general list of writing mistakes, some of which you may make. But be sure to go through your writing feedback or talk with your teacher to make a list of your most common mistakes.

Use a Prewriting Strategy

So many students sit down to write an essay without a plan. They just start writing whatever comes to their mind. However, to write a top-graded essay in English, you must plan and brainstorm before you begin to write. Here are some strategies you can use during the prewriting stage:

  • Freewriting
  • Concept Mapping

For more detailed information on each of these processes, read “5 Useful Prewriting Strategies.”

Follow the Writing Process

All writers should follow a writing process. However, the writing process can vary depending on what you’re writing. For example, the process for a Ph.D. thesis is going to look different to that of a news article. Regardless, there are some basic steps that all writers should follow:

  • Understanding the assignment, essay question, or writing topic.
  • Planning, outlining, and prewriting.
  • Writing a thesis statement.
  • Writing your essay.
  • Revising and editing.

For more information on how to write an essay in English, read “How To Construct an Excellent Essay in 5 Steps.”

Writing essays, theses, news articles, or papers in English can be challenging. They take a lot of work, practice, and persistence. However, with these tips, you will be on your way to writing top-graded English essays.

If you need more help with your English writing, the experts at Proofed will proofread your first 500 words for free!

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How to Write a Composition

Last Updated: December 6, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Christopher Taylor, PhD . Christopher Taylor is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of English at Austin Community College in Texas. He received his PhD in English Literature and Medieval Studies from the University of Texas at Austin in 2014. There are 7 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 807,108 times.

You don't have to be a good writer to write well. Writing is a process. By learning to treat writing as a series of small steps instead of a big all-at-once magic trick you have to pull off will make writing a composition much easier and much more fun. You can learn to brainstorm main ideas before you start writing, organize a draft of those main ideas, and revise your composition into a polished essay. See Step 1 for more information.

Composition Template

how to write an essay for english composition

Pre-Writing

Step 1 Read the assignment closely.

  • What is the purpose of the composition?
  • What is the topic of the composition?
  • What are the length requirements?
  • What is the appropriate tone or voice for the composition?
  • Is research required? These questions are good for you to ask.
  • Pre-writing: gathering your thoughts or research, brainstorming, and planning the compositions
  • Writing: actively writing your composition
  • Editing: re-reading your paper, adding sentences, cutting unnecessary parts, and proofreading

Step 3 Do a free-write...

  • Try a timed writing by keeping your pen moving for 10 minutes without stopping. Don't shy away from including your opinions about a particular topic, even if your teacher has warned you from including personal opinions in your paper. This isn't the final draft!

Step 4 Try a cluster or bubble exercise.

  • Write the topic in the center of the paper and draw a circle around it. Say your topic is "Romeo & Juliet" or "The Civil War". Write the phrase on your paper and circle it.
  • Around the center circle, write your main ideas or interests about the topic. You might be interested in "Juliet's death," "Mercutio's anger," or "family strife." Write as many main ideas as you're interested in.
  • Around each main idea, write more specific points or observations about each more specific topic. Start looking for connections. Are you repeating language or ideas?
  • Connect the bubbles with lines where you see related connections. A good composition is organized by main ideas, not organized chronologically or by plot. Use these connections to form your main ideas.
  • Don’t worry about coming up with a polished thesis statement or final argument now; that can come later in the process.

Step 6 Make a formal...

  • Your thesis statement needs to be debatable. In fact, many thesis statements are structured as the answer to a well-formulated question about the topic. "Romeo & Juliet is an interesting play written by Shakespeare in the 1500s" isn't a thesis statement, because that's not a debatable issue. We don't need you to prove that to us. "Romeo & Juliet features Shakespeare's most tragic character in Juliet" is a lot closer to a debatable point, and could be an answer to a question like, “Who is Shakespeare’s most tragic character?” [4] X Research source
  • Your thesis statement needs to be specific. "Romeo & Juliet is a play about making bad choices" isn't as strong a thesis statement as "Shakespeare makes the argument that the inexperience of teenage love is comic and tragic at the same time" is much stronger.
  • A good thesis guides the essay. In your thesis, you can sometimes preview the points you'll make in your paper, guiding yourself and the reader: "Shakespeare uses Juliet's death, Mercutio's rage, and the petty arguments of the two principal families to illustrate that the heart and the head are forever disconnected."

Writing a Rough Draft

Step 1 Think in fives.

  • Introduction, in which the topic is described, the issue or problem is summarized, and your argument is presented
  • Main point paragraph 1, in which you make and support your first supporting argument
  • Main point paragraph 2, in which you make and support your second supporting argument
  • Main point paragraph 3, in which you make and support your final supporting argument
  • Conclusion paragraph, in which you summarize your argument

Step 2 Back up your main points with two kinds of evidence.

  • Proof includes specific quotes from the book you're writing about, or specific facts about the topic. If you want to talk about Mercutio's temperamental character, you'll need to quote from him, set the scene, and describe him in detail. This is proof that you'll also need to unpack with logic.
  • Logic refers to your rationale and your reasoning. Why is Mercutio like this? What are we supposed to notice about the way he talks? Explain your proof to the reader by using logic and you'll have a solid argument with strong evidence.

Step 3 Think of questions that need to be answered.

  • Ask how. How is Juliet's death presented to us? How do the other characters react? How is the reader supposed to feel?
  • Ask why. Why does Shakespeare kill her? Why not let her live? Why does she have to die? Why would the story not work without her death?

Step 4 Don't worry about "sounding smart."

  • Only use words and phrases that you have a good command over. Academic vocabulary might sound impressive, but if you don’t fully grasp its meaning, you might muddle the effect of your paper.

Step 1 Get some feedback on your rough draft.

  • Try writing a rough draft the weekend before it's due, and giving it to your teacher for comments several days before the due date. Take the feedback into consideration and make the necessary changes.

Step 2 Be willing to make big cuts and big changes.

  • Moving paragraphs around to get the best possible organization of points, the best "flow"
  • Delete whole sentences that are repetitive or that don't work
  • Removing any points that don't support your argument

Step 3 Go from general to specific.

  • Think of each main point you're making like a mountain in a mountain range that you're flying over in a helicopter. You can stay above them and fly over them quickly, pointing out their features from far away and giving us a quick flyover tour, or you can drop us down in between them and show us up close, so we see the mountain goats and the rocks and the waterfalls. Which would be a better tour?

Step 4 Read over your draft out loud.

Expert Q&A

Christopher Taylor, PhD

  • Write a point, and expand 2 lines on that particular point. Thanks Helpful 9 Not Helpful 2
  • Open source software called Free Mind can help with the pre-writing process. Thanks Helpful 7 Not Helpful 2
  • You can always add more circles to your guiding diagram if you think the much you have is not sufficient. Thanks Helpful 5 Not Helpful 3

Tips from our Readers

  • Remember to always proofread your composition after you have finished! Small typos like a missed comma or a misspelled word are easy to miss the first time around.
  • If you want to outline your composition, try using a mini white board. This makes it easier to erase things and restructure your outline if you need to.
  • It's hard to write with distractions, so try to pick a quiet place where you won't be disturbed to work on your assignment.

how to write an essay for english composition

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Write a Persuasive Essay

  • ↑ https://www.student.unsw.edu.au/writing-your-essay
  • ↑ https://www.deakin.edu.au/students/studying/study-support/academic-skills/essay-writing
  • ↑ https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/544/01/
  • ↑ https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/685/05/
  • ↑ https://libguides.newcastle.edu.au/how-to-write-an-essay/essay-structure
  • ↑ https://www.citewrite.qut.edu.au/write/writing-well/essay.html
  • ↑ https://writing.wisc.edu/handbook/grammarpunct/commonerrors/

About This Article

Christopher Taylor, PhD

To write a composition, start with a brainstorming session to get your thoughts down on paper. You can create a formal outline during this time, or experiment with bubble exercises and free-writing. Next, create a clear thesis statement to base your composition around. Then, write an introduction, 3 main paragraphs, and a conclusion that summarizes your argument. Read through and revise your content, and don't forget to proofread thoroughly! To learn more about the "rule of 5" and how to back up your statements in a composition, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Writing Skills: How to Write an Essay in English

Struggling with another English essay? Inside, find a basic structure that will help you make the essay writing process easier and turn in a remarkable essay.

Determine the Purpose of Your Essay and Stick to It

Brainstorm ideas, develop a thesis statement, create an outline, start writing, edit and proofread, the bottom line.

Character get a bad mark on his English essay

For many beginning English learners writing a whole essay in English can turn out to be a challenge. It’s no wonder why – English students often face a lot of difficulties because there are so many grammar rules and stylistic nuances that it can be daunting for even the most determined students.

However, essays are an integral part of the education system. Essays allow teachers to evaluate your critical thinking and written communication skills. You’ll also need good essay writing skills if you want to apply for universities in English-speaking countries.

The great news is that, with a little hard work and determination, anyone can become a proficient English writer. In this article, we'll discuss some tips that will boost your writing skills and help you ease the essay writing process. Keep reading and learn how to start writing remarkable essays in English!

Discover how to learn words 3x faster

Learn English with Langster

There are many different types of essays, and each one requires a different writing approach. Some essays, such as persuasive essays , require a lot of research to form well thought-out arguments. Others, such as personal narratives , are more informal and may not require as much additional research.

If you're assigned a research paper , you'll need to use more factual evidence to support your claims. Admissions essays , in turn, require you to present yourself to the admissions committee and demonstrate why you're a good fit for their school.

In an expository essay you explain or define a concept, while in a descriptive essay you'll describe something in great detail.

Understanding the purpose of your essay will help you determine what kind of information to include and how best to organize it. No matter what type of essay you're writing, it's important to determine the purpose early on and stick to it . Keep in mind that trying to accomplish too many things in one essay will only confuse and frustrate your reader.

When you want to write an essay, one of the most important steps is brainstorming . This is when you sit down and come up with ideas for your essay.

Here’s a few questions to get your brainstorming session started. What am I trying to say with my essay? What points do I want to make? What examples can I use to support my claims?

Simply jot down all of your ideas on the topic, and then look for common themes and patterns. By taking the time to think about your essay before you start writing, you'll save yourself a lot of time and frustration later on.

Character thinking about writing the essay

Once you have a general idea of what you want to write about, it's time to develop a thesis statement . This is a short, concise sentence that states the central point of your essay. It should be specific and direct, without being too narrow or broad.

Some things to keep in mind to help you develop a clear thesis statement:

  • Make sure it is directly relevant to the prompt or question.
  • Be as specific as possible.
  • Browse sample essays to get a better idea of how yours should look like.
  • Don't be afraid to revise your thesis statement as you write!

For example, if you want to explore the theme of justice in the play Antigone , a good thesis statement might be:

  • In the play Antigone, Sophocles uses irony to highlight the contradictions between what is morally right and what is legally right.

This thesis statement tells us that the essay will be about how Sophocles uses irony, and what that says about the literature. It gives the reader a specific idea of what to expect, and it also helps to keep the writer focused on their essay’s main purpose.

After you've developed a thesis statement, it's time to create an outline . This will be a roadmap for your essay and help you keep your thoughts organized and on track. A good outline includes a main idea for each paragraph (usually expressed in a topic sentence), and supporting details.

To get started, simply list all of the ideas that you want to include in your essay. Then, look for any common themes or patterns. From there, you can start to develop a more specific outline.

To give you an example, here is a basic outline for a five-paragraph essay on the abovementioned play Antigone :

Introductory Paragraph:

  • Brief summary of the play.
  • Overview of your main argument.

Body Paragraphs:

  • Paragraph 1: Sophocles uses irony to explore the theme of justice.
  • Paragraph 2: The consequences of conflicts between morality and law.
  • Paragraph 3: The role of family in Antigone's decision.

Conclusion Paragraph:

  • Restate your thesis statement.
  • Summarize your main points and arguments.
  • Leave the reader with something to think about.

Remember, this is just a basic structure you can refer to. As you write your own essay, you may find that your ideas change or that the direction of the essay has shifted. That's okay! Just be sure to revise and adjust your outline as you go.

Character writing an essay

Now it's time to start writing your essay! Most people begin with an introduction paragraph where they present their topic and a thesis statement. If you’re struggling to write your thesis, it can also be helpful to start on a body paragraph. Experiment to find out what works for you. Be sure to use strong vocabulary and clear, concise sentence structure.

Avoid run-on sentences and stick to active voice whenever possible. Overusing passive voice is one of the most common mistakes when it comes to essay writing, as it unnecessarily complicates the text and makes it more challenging to get through. Also, avoid using first person pronouns (I, me, my, etc.) in formal academic essays.

When it comes to an overall paragraph structure, make sure that each paragraph focuses on one idea only. Keep in mind that the first sentence of each paragraph is a topic sentence . This means that you should express the main point of the paragraph in it.

Then, you can use transition words to connect sentences within a paragraph, present evidence and argument, and make the text more readable overall.

As you write, be sure to support your thesis statement and provide evidence from the source material. This could include quotes, examples, or simply referring back to specific scenes. Remember, your goal is to persuade your reader that your argument is valid. The more evidence you can provide, the stronger your argument will be.

This is especially important if you write an argumentative essay , as it should take a stance on an issue. Your goal is to make your argument as clear and easy to follow as possible to keep the reader's attention throughout the whole essay.

If you find yourself getting bogged down in the details, take a break and come back to it later. Writing essays can be taxing, but with a careful approach to word choice and a bit of creativity, you can turn a simple essay topic into something remarkable.

After you've finished writing your first draft, it's important to edit and proofread your work . A good essay is clear, well-organized, and free of spelling and grammatical errors. You’ll need to edit and make sure that your essay meets all of these requirements.

Here are a few simple steps that will help you proofread and edit your essay:

  • Start by reading through your essay aloud. You can also print your essay out and mark errors with a pen. This will help you to catch any typos, grammatical errors, or punctuation mistakes .
  • Read through your essay again to ensure your sentences are clear and concise and make any necessary changes. Use a Thesaurus to find better words to use in your essay.
  • Have someone else read your essay and ask for feedback. They may be able to spot errors that you missed, provide feedback on the essay’s tone and your overall writing style, or give professional opinion on an explored subject.

Once you’ve checked your writing for errors, you’ll want to make sure you properly format your final draft.

Character editing an essay

One of the most important things of essay writing is to format your final draft correctly. This includes using the correct font, margins, and spacing. It's also important to be consistent with your formatting throughout the entire essay. Be sure to check the style guide of your assignment.

Some teachers will let you choose the font, and if they do it’s a good idea to stick with something simple and easy to read. Times New Roman or Arial are both good options for academic essays. Most teachers prefer 1-inch margins on all sides of the page. Spacing is typically double-spaced, with each new paragraph indented.

If you're not sure how to format your essay, check the style guide of the assignment. If you can’t find any info there, ask your teacher for guidance. They will be able to tell you exactly what they're expecting.

With these tips, you'll be well on your way to writing an excellent essay in English! Just remember to start early, stay focused, and be willing to revise your work. With a little effort, you'll be sure to turn in an essay that you can be proud of.

Character getting a good mark on his essay

Writing a good essay in English isn't as difficult as it may seem. By brainstorming ideas, developing a thesis statement, and creating an outline, you'll be well on your way to success. Just be sure to edit and proofread your work before submitting it.

With a little bit of effort and some helpful tips, you can produce an essay that is clear, concise, and well-written. Make sure to follow these guidelines and you're sure to impress your teacher (and yourself) with your writing skills. With these tips and tricks, you can write all different kinds of essays in English.

While you may think that a good writing style is something one’s born with, we at Langster know that it’s just another skill you can successfully develop by practicing. So, keep writing and you’ll get there!

Blog Author Image

Ellis is a seasoned polyglot and one of the creative minds behind Langster Blog, where she shares effective language learning strategies and insights from her own journey mastering the four languages. Ellis strives to empower learners globally to embrace new languages with confidence and curiosity. Off the blog, she immerses herself in exploring diverse cultures through cinema and contemporary fiction, further fueling her passion for language and connection.

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8 Tips to Write Better Essays in English

Learning a foreign language is an overwhelming experience, especially if it’s one of the most widely spoken languages in the world – English.

Many people are under the impression that learning to read and speak in English is enough without realizing that written English skills are an equally vital asset to have.

From improving academics to boosting career prospects – the ability to write in English not only lets you communicate and express yourself better in today’s globalized world but also makes you more confident.

An effective way to improve your writing skills is to write essays. Wondering where to begin? We bring you eight useful tips to write better essays in English.

1. Keep a Vocabulary Notebook

Using the right vocabulary is an essential element of writing essays. When you make efforts to expand your vocabulary, you will be able to pick accurate words to take your writing to the next level.

Instead of coming across new words and forgetting about them, it’s a good idea to make a note of them in your vocabulary notebook. Doing this helps you remember the meanings of new words and you can also refer to it while writing essays.

So, give yourself a target to learn at least ten new words every day, which you can jot down in your diary and take baby steps in building a strong vocabulary.

2. Refer to Credible Sources

Research forms the first step in writing any kind of essay. The stronger your research, the better is the quality of your essay.

At a time when we have access to a wide range of data, it’s important to evaluate research sources carefully and only refer to credible ones. For example, Wikipedia is not a reliable source and should not be attributed to while writing essays.

Take the effort to read through published journals, research studies, scholarly papers, academic databases, and encyclopedias published within the last 10-15 years. It’s also important to assess the credibility of the author while evaluating the source.

3. Draft a Basic Outline

Once you’ve done your research, don’t rush to write. Take a moment to draft a basic outline for your essay and organize your research and findings.

“Is that necessary,” you ask? Very much.

Working on an outline lets you approach the essay in an organized manner. It serves as the skeleton of your paper while ensuring you’re not missing out on any information and that your points flow logically.

Most essays are categorized into – introduction, body, and conclusion.

The introduction is where you introduce the topic and give context. The body paragraphs need to include your arguments and research methodology (if any). The conclusion needs to reiterate the thesis statement and tie all the points together.

4. Hook the Reader

With attention spans getting shorter with time, it’s become all the more important to start with a bang and hook the reader from the beginning to ensure they are invested in your writing.

Essay hooks refer to the first one or two sentences of your essay which have the power to make or break the reader’s interest. The key is to write a hook that grabs the reader’s attention and reels them in.

From an alarming statistic and relevant quote to using humor and asking a rhetoric question – there are various tactics you can employ to keep the reader engaged.

If you’re unable to think of an impactful essay hook, don’t waste too much time on it. Finish the rest of your essay and come back to write a compelling hook later.

5. Use the Pomodoro Technique

It’s not easy to write an essay in one go, especially if it’s not in your first language.

A smart way to approach essay writing is to use the Pomodoro technique. This technique asks you to set a timer for 25 minutes to finish your task in question and then take a 5-minute break. After four cycles of repeating this, you get to take an extended 20-minute break.

So, start with breaking down the assignment into smaller tasks such as research, outlining, writing the different paragraphs, citing references and proofreading. You can then set the timer, start working on the essay as per the technique and track your progress.

Using this technique keeps distractions at bay and helps you stay more focused.

6. Pay Attention to Grammar Rules

You may raise interesting points in your essay, but poor grammar disrupts the reading experience and should be avoided at all costs.

Be careful when adding punctuations, check your sentence formations, avoid passive voice as much as possible and know the difference between adjectives, adverbs, nouns and verbs.

So  abide by grammar rules to deliver a well-written and cohesive essay.

7. Write with Clarity

You might be tempted to use complex metaphors and jargons to impress the reader, but the truth is, none of that guarantees “good” writing.

One of the most important ingredients of effective writing is clarity. You don’t want to leave the reader confused and puzzled after reading your essay. So, use simple words, stop beating around the bush and explain concepts with the help of examples because clear writing always wins.

8. Reread the Essay

Finally, make it a point to proofread your essay (multiple times) to ensure you have covered all the aspects, cited references accurately and not made any silly errors.

It’s a good idea to read your essay out loud so you’re able to identify errors and awkwardly formed sentences with ease. You should also get a friend or family member to read your essay, to spot mistakes or discrepancies that you may have overlooked.

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35 comments

Thanks a lot all we can derive from reading is the technique to write with clarity, good research and involvement of readers in writing.

Thank a lot dear EnglishClub, it’s help me a lot

I think it is very good site for learn essay writing

As a teacher trainer this contribution is helpful

Thanks for the tips! I’ll have an essay tomorrow and this will surlely prepare me!

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Nice one but I don’t understand yet

Knowledge supporter is who u are, keep d good work nd ur reward is from God nd thanks.

thanks alot for your tips…your tips will help me alot while examss!!!

Thank you so much for information ☺️

Thank you ☺️

Thank you 💯💯💯💯💯💯

My hobby is home garden

ur intentinon and thoughts was very nce its useful to somny pepole to learn english tysomuch adela belin

Thanks you for helping

This did help a lot! Thank you very much 🥰

Good tips, I should give it a try, after all, we all improve by exercising hard so I’ll just do the same thing, but right now I gotta focus on what matters, and what I need now is to read as much as I can to know how to spell the words right. Is grammar so important in this task, I mean can’t I just pick the things up because of my experience in listening skill ?

Thanks for the information!

This is a nice explanation ,,,,,proud of you!

Is very interesting for me I really apreicete you help

Thanks so much for these useful tips!! Now, I need to start preparing my essay (“starting” has been always the stone on my way :$)

Please, what is the difference between an essay and an article?

Are they same?

Thanks in advance,

Thanks & best regards English Club

Helpful updated tips to share with our students!! thankssss

I want to know if it is only at the University or if we may take the course online.

Thank you verry much for important advices

thank for your key points, this is really helpful

Thank you and best wishes,

Very pragmatic and helpful essay. Thank so much English club

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Module 4: Writing in College

Writing a personal essay, learning objectives.

  • Describe techniques for writing an effective personal essay

How to Write a Personal Essay

One particular and common kind of narrative essay is the personal narrative essay. Maybe you have already written one of these in order to get to college or for a scholarship. The personal essay is a narrative essay focused on you. Typically, you write about events or people in your life that taught you important life lessons. These events should have changed you somehow. From this choice will emerge the theme (the main point) of your story. Then you can follow these steps:

Someone writing on sticky notes and in a notebook.

Figure 1 . Brainstorming the details of a personal experience can help you to write a more complete story with elements like vivid details, dialogue, and sufficient character development.

  • Once you identify the event, you will write down what happened. Just brainstorm (also called freewriting). Focus on the actual event. You do not need to provide a complete build-up to it. For example, if you are telling a story about an experience at camp, you do not need to provide readers with a history of your camp experiences, nor do you need to explain how you got there, what you ate each day, how long it lasted, etc. Readers need enough information to understand the event.
  • Use descriptions/vivid details.
  • “Nothing moved but a pair of squirrels chasing each other back and forth on the telephone wires. I followed one in my sight. Finally, it stopped for a moment and I fired.”
  • Passive voice uses the verb “to be” along with an action verb: had been aiming, was exhausted.
  • Even though the “characters” in your story are real people, your readers won’t get to know them unless you describe them, present their personalities, and give them physical presence.
  • Dialogue helps readers get to know the characters in your story, infuses the story with life, and offers a variation from description and explanation. When writing dialogue, you may not remember exactly what was said in the past, so be true to the person being represented and come as close to the actual language the person uses as possible. Dialogue is indented with each person speaking as its own paragraph. The paragraph ends when that person is done speaking and any following explanation or continuing action ends. (If your characters speak a language other than English, feel free to include that in your narrative, but provide a translation for your English-speaking readers.)
  • Remember, if it is a personal narrative, you are telling the story, so it should be in first person. Students often worry about whether or not they are allowed to use “I.” It is impossible to write a personal essay without using “I”!
  • Write the story in a consistent verb tense (almost always past tense). It doesn’t work to try to write it in the present tense since it already happened. Make sure you stay in the past tense.

Sample Personal Statement

One type of narrative essay you may have reason to write is a Personal Statement.

Many colleges and universities ask for a Personal Statement Essay for students who are applying for admission, to transfer, or for scholarships. Generally, a Personal Statement asks you to respond to a specific prompt, most often asking you to describe a significant life event, a personality trait, or a goal or principle that motivates or inspires you. Personal Statements are essentially narrative essays with a particular focus on the writer’s personal life.

The following essay was responding to the prompt: “Write about an experience that made you aware of a skill or strength you possess.” As you read, pay attention to the way the writer gets your attention with a strong opening, how he uses vivid details and a chronological narrative to tell his story, and how he links back to the prompt in the conclusion.

Sample Student Essay

Alen Abramyan Professor X English 1101-209 2/5/2022

In the Middle of Nowhere Fighting Adversity

A three-punch combination had me seeing stars. Blood started to rush down my nose. The Russian trainers quietly whispered to one another. I knew right away that my nose was broken. Was this the end of my journey; or was I about to face adversity?

Ever since I was seven years old, I trained myself in, “The Art of Boxing.”  While most of the kids were out playing fun games and hanging out with their friends, I was in a damp, sweat-filled gym. My path was set to be a difficult one. Blood, sweat, and tears were going to be an everyday occurrence.

At a very young age I learned the meaning of hard work and dedication. Most kids jumped from one activity to the next. Some quit because it was too hard; others quit because they were too bored. My father pointed this out to me on many occasions. Adults would ask my father, ” why do you let your son box? It’s such a dangerous sport, he could get hurt. My father always replied, “Everyone is going to get hurt in their lives, physically, mentally and emotionally. I’m making sure he’s ready for the challenges he’s going to face as a man. I always felt strong after hearing my father speak that way about me. I was a boy being shaped into a man, what a great feeling it was.

Year after year, I participated in boxing tournaments across the U.S. As the years went by, the work ethic and strength of character my father and coaches instilled in me, were starting to take shape. I began applying the hard work and dedication I learned in boxing, to my everyday life. I realized that when times were tough and challenges presented themselves, I wouldn’t back down, I would become stronger. This confidence I had in myself, gave me the strength to pursue my boxing career in Russia.

I traveled to Russia to compete in Amateur Boxing. Tournament after tournament I came closer to my goal of making the Russian Olympic Boxing team. After successfully winning the Kaliningrad regional tournament, I began training for the Northwest Championships. This would include boxers from St. Petersburg, Pskov, Kursk and many other powerful boxing cities.

We had to prepare for a tough tournament, and that’s what we did. While sparring one week before the tournament, I was caught by a strong punch combination to the nose. I knew right away it was serious. Blood began rushing down my face, as I noticed the coaches whispering to each other. They walked into my corner and examined my nose,” yeah, it’s broken,” Yuri Ivonovich yelled out. I was asked to clean up and to meet them in their office. I walked into the Boxing Federation office after a quick shower. I knew right away, they wanted to replace me for the upcoming tournament. “We’re investing a lot of money on you boxers and we expect good results. Why should we risk taking you with a broken nose?” Yuri Ivonovich asked me. I replied, “I traveled half-way around the world to be here, this injury isn’t a problem for me.” And by the look on my face they were convinced, they handed me my train ticket and wished me luck.

The train came to a screeching halt, shaking all the passengers awake. I glanced out my window, “Welcome to Cherepovets,” the sign read. In the background I saw a horrific skyline of smokestacks, coughing out thick black smoke. Arriving in the city, we went straight to the weigh ins. Hundreds of boxers, all from many cities were there. The brackets were set up shortly after the weigh ins. In the Super Heavyweight division, I found out I had 4 fights to compete in, each increasing in difficulty. My first match, I made sure not a punch would land; this was true for the next two fights. Winning all three 6-0, 8-0 and 7-0 respectively. It looked like I was close to winning the whole tournament. For the finals I was to fight the National Olympic Hope Champion.

The night before the finals was coincidentally the 200th anniversary of the city. All night by my hotel, I heard screams of laughter and partying. I couldn’t sleep a wink. The morning of the fight I was exhausted but anxious. I stepped into the ring knowing that I was tired. I fell behind in points quickly in the first round. I felt as if I were dreaming, with no control of the situation. I was going along for the ride and it wasn’t pleasant. At the end of the second round, the coach informed me that I was far behind. “?You’re asleep in there,” he yelled out to me, confirming how I felt. I knew this was my last chance; I had to give it my all. I mustered up enough strength to have an amazing round. It was as if I stepped out and a fresh boxer stepped in. I glanced at my coaches and see a look of approval. No matter the outcome, I felt that I had defeated adversity. My opponent’s hand was raised , he won a close decision, 6-5. After I got back to my hotel, I remembered Yuri Ivonovich telling me they expected good results. “How were my results,” I asked myself. In my mind, the results were great, with a broken nose and with no sleep, I came one point shy of defeating the National Olympic Hope Champion.

Even from a very young age, I knew that when my back was against the wall and adversity was knocking on my door, I would never back down. I became a stronger person, a trait my family made sure I would carry into my adult years. No matter what I’m striving for; getting into a University; receiving a scholarship; or applying for a job, I can proudly say to myself, I am Alen Abramyan and adversity is no match for me.

Link to Learning

Sandra Cisneros offers an example of a narrative essay in “Only Daughter”  that captures her sense of her Chicana-Mexican heritage as the only daughter in a family of seven children.

Do Personal Essays have Thesis Statements?

While many personal essays include a direct statement of the thesis, in some personal essays the thesis may be implied, or suggested, rather than stated outright.

Imagine, for example, that in your personal essay you decide to write about the way someone influenced you. The influential individual could be a relative, a friend or classmate, an employer or a teacher. As you shape your essay, you would not simply assemble a collection of miscellaneous observations about the person; instead, you would be selective and focus on details about this person that show his or her impact upon you.

Let us say that the person who influenced you is a grandparent. You may know a lot about this individual: personality traits, family and marital history, medical history, educational background, work experience, military experience, political and religious beliefs, hobbies, tastes in music, etc. As you shape your essay, you wouldn’t try to catalog all that you know. Instead, you would try to create a dominant impression by including details that guide your reader toward the idea that is central to the essay.

For example, if you developed certain habits and attitudes as you and your grandparent worked together on a project, that experience might provide the focus for the essay. If you chose details consistent with that focus, then you wouldn’t need to state that this was the point of the essay. Your readers would understand that that was the governing idea based on the details you had so carefully chosen.

Whether the thesis is stated outright or implied, then, the personal essay will have a governing idea—an idea that is “in charge” of what you decide to include in the essay in terms of content, vocabulary, sentence structure, and tone. In short, the personal essay may not have a thesis statement, but it  will  have a thesis.

Consider a personal essay in which a student was asked to write about a person she admired, and she wrote about her cousin. She wrote:

  • I admired my cousin’s decision to enlist because she had to withstand criticism from people who thought women shouldn’t be in the army and because in basic training she had to stand up to physical and mental challenges that I don’t think I could face.

The thesis statement provides guidance for both writing and reading the essay. Writer and reader alike are able to see what the subject of the essay is and what is being stated about the subject and how the essay should be organized. No matter how many body paragraphs there are, this thesis implies that the paper will be divided into two sections. One section will group together the paragraphs on this topic: cousin “had to withstand criticism from people who thought women shouldn’t be in the army.” Another section will group together the paragraphs on this second topic: “in basic training she had to stand up to physical and mental challenges.”

Are Narratives Persuasive?

In a personal essay, you may not think of your thesis as “arguable” in the same way as a claim in a persuasive essay would be arguable, but in fact, you can think of it as something that should need to be demonstrated—backed up through explanations and illustrations. Usually, the idea that should be demonstrated is that you are a thoughtful, reflective person who has learned from the events and people in your life.

If the thesis does  not   need to be demonstrated, then there may not be much purpose in writing the essay. For, example, a statement that “George W. Bush was the forty-third president” or the statement that “Senior proms are exciting” would not be considered arguable by most people and likely would not spark a reader’s interest to make them want to keep reading.

On the other hand, the thesis statements below would need to be explained and illustrated. In that sense, these personal essay thesis statements are equivalent to claims that are “arguable.”

  • The evening was nearly ruined because parents acting as dress-code vigilantes threw several people out of the prom.
  • My team spent hours planning the prom and managed to head off a repeat of the after-prom drinking that caused some parents to question whether the prom should be held this year.
  • Everyone was able to attend the prom proudly because our prom committee got several stores to loan outfits to make certain everyone would feel like they fit in.
  • I opted to attend an alternative prom because the principal refused to allow a same-sex couple to attend.

Keep in mind that the actions or events in your essay do not have to make you look heroic. You could write a convincing and powerful essay about how you attended the school-sponsored prom, even though the principal refused to allow a same-sex couple to attend. Your essay, in this case, might, for example, focus on your regret over your decision and your subsequent understanding of how you think you can best challenge the status quo in the future. In other words, you can write an effective personal essay about a moment of regret.

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  • Narrative Essay. Provided by : Excelsior OWL. Located at : https://owl.excelsior.edu/rhetorical-styles/narrative-essay/narrative-essay-see-it-across-the-disciplines/ . License : CC BY: Attribution
  • Narrative Essays. Authored by : Marianne Botos, Lynn McClelland, Stephanie Polliard, Pamela Osback . Located at : https://pvccenglish.files.wordpress.com/2010/09/eng-101-inside-pages-proof2-no-pro.pdf . Project : Horse of a Different Color: English Composition and Rhetoric . License : CC BY: Attribution
  • Sample Narrative Essay. Provided by : Georgia State University. Located at : http://gsuideas.org/SCC/Narration/Sample%20Narrative%20Essay%20Personal%20Statement.html . Project : Writing For Success. License : CC BY: Attribution
  • Writing a Narrative Essay. Provided by : Boundless. Located at : https://courses.lumenlearning.com/boundless-writing/chapter/types-of-rhetorical-modes/ . License : CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike
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  • Do Personal Essays have Thesis Statements?. Provided by : Radford University. Located at : https://lcubbison.pressbooks.com/chapter/core-101-personal-essay-assignment/ . Project : Radford University Core Handbook. License : Public Domain: No Known Copyright

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English Composition: Connect, Collaborate, Communicate

(22 reviews)

how to write an essay for english composition

Ann Inoshita

Karyl Garland

Jeanne K. Tsutsui Keuma

Tasha Williams

Copyright Year: 2019

Publisher: University of Hawaii Manoa

Language: English

Formats Available

Conditions of use.

Attribution

Learn more about reviews.

Reviewed by Monica Vidal, Lecturer, Leeward Community College on 12/12/22

The book is most certainly comprehensive. It covers all the topics one could use to teach an English 100 course. It describes in detail what students need to be successful, lays out the writing process, details the different kinds of essays... read more

Comprehensiveness rating: 5 see less

The book is most certainly comprehensive. It covers all the topics one could use to teach an English 100 course. It describes in detail what students need to be successful, lays out the writing process, details the different kinds of essays students write, provides tons of examples, describes researching and citing sources, and ends with three appendices which provide more insight into place- and culture-based learning, more assignments, and more resources.

Content Accuracy rating: 5

The content is accurate. There is a small bias toward the Hawaiian culture, but that is because this book was written in the University of Hawai‘i system, and making references to the culture on the islands is important for the local students. The examples used in the book are place- and culture-based.

The one error I did come across was in the first chapter where the authors described the use and spelling of words borrowed from other languages. They stated that "In French, the word “résumé” is a short, employment-related document detailing one’s education, work history, and job and people skills." While that is how we use the word now in English, the word means "summary" or "summarized" in French. Otherwise, I did not find other errors.

Relevance/Longevity rating: 5

This text is up-to-date and not in a way that will quickly make the text obsolete within a short time. It was written in 2019 and there are references to the iPhone X, for example, which is pretty easy to change if need be.

Clarity rating: 5

The text is clear, the prose is accessible, and it provides adequate context for all jargon and terminology. The authors define new words and concepts (rhetoric, intellectual standards, mindset, mechanics, etc.) and make it easy to follow along.

Consistency rating: 5

The text is consistent in its terminology and framework. Each chapter starts with a relatable story, then new concepts and examples, it then finishes with activities and works cited. Students and teachers alike will know what to expect as they move through each new chapter. I like that instead of providing links to resources, which can one day become obsolete, they provide us with the titles of videos that can be looked up. Example: "View the video “Shot on iPhone XS—Don’t mess with Mother—Apple,” posted by the Apple company."

Modularity rating: 5

The text is easily and readily divisible into smaller reading sections. These sections can be easily assigned at different points within the course. There are numerous subtitles and the sections contain no large blocks of text that can overwhelm students. The book is easy to navigate and each chapter can stand on its own if needed.

Organization/Structure/Flow rating: 5

The structure and flow of the book are excellent. The authors have done a beautiful job of starting the students off with a chapter on college success strategies describing attendance, syllabi, checking emails, attending meetings, managing their time and organization, and working with a growth mindset. They discuss the 9 intellectual standards (clarity, precision, accuracy, depth, breadth, logic, significance, relevance, and fairness). After establishing a strong foundation in these critical areas, the authors move on to the writing process in chapter 2 (prewriting, drafting, revising, editing), essay structure in chapter 3 (introduction, body, and conclusion paragraphs), in chapter 4, four kinds of essays are described: narrative, process narrative, evaluation, and persuasion, and finally in chapter 5, the research process and citing sources are covered. There are three appendices, one each on: place- and culture-based readings, online videos and readings, and additional assignments.

Interface rating: 4

There are no interface issues, no navigation problems, or distorted images. As previously mentioned, I liked that instead of providing links to resources, readers are given the titles of videos that can be looked up.

The text is missing an index, but using the "find" feature on the pdf text will help readers find the topics they could be looking for.

Grammatical Errors rating: 5

I found no grammatical errors.

Cultural Relevance rating: 5

This text is culturally sensitive: it uses examples from the local Hawaiian Islands context and dedicates an appendix to place- and culture-based readings.

Reviewed by Anthony Accardi Jr, Adjunct Professor, Middlesex Community College on 12/6/22

I was immediately impressed by the Table of Contents of the text English Composition: Connect, Collaborate, Communicate by Ann Inoshita Karyl Garland Kate Sims Jeanne K. Tsutsui. The “nuts and bolts” structure of the text presents an... read more

I was immediately impressed by the Table of Contents of the text English Composition: Connect, Collaborate, Communicate by Ann Inoshita Karyl Garland Kate Sims Jeanne K. Tsutsui. The “nuts and bolts” structure of the text presents an easy-to-follow guide for students to learn the basics of essay writing. The pleasant surprise is that despite the basic structure the text covers all important fundamentals comprehensively. The text presents students with essential writing steps such as prewriting and editing; Essay structure including proper paragraph construction; Types of Essays including analysis, evaluating and persuasion; and Research Skills including gathering information and citing sources.

In my review I did not notice any errors or inaccuracies.

The material in this book covers the “building blocks” of fundamental essay writing. Addressing the essential elements of writing makes the text relevant as well as a good guide for students to refer to throughout their academic careers.

In my experience I find most students are intimidated by the writing process. In the text English Composition: Connect, Collaborate, Communicate the authors explain the elements of good writing in a clear straightforward manner.

In general, the structure of each chapter in the text is similar, beginning with a brief definition/explanation of the topic followed by more relevant details.

The chapters are short yet comprehensive. They are suitably structured to be assigned as student reading assignments with related writing assignments.

The organization of the chapters creates a logical pedagogical progression outlining the elements of essay writing in a step-by-step manner.

Interface rating: 5

The text interface is easy to navigate and is available Online or as a downloaded PDF or Ebook.

In my review I did not notice any grammatical or syntax errors.

I felt Appendix 1. Placed Based and Culture Based Readings showed that the authors were sensitive to cultural diversity. I found the text inoffensive and appropriate.

This text covers the “basics of essay writing”. The steps by step approach to the text makes it easy to follow the fundamental process to write a good essay.

Reviewed by Angela Hurni, English Instructor, Tidewater Community College on 7/6/22

The textbook is a slim 110 pages and contains the essential chapters of any first-year college composition textbook: College Success Skills, The Writing Process, Essay Structure, Types of Essays, and Research Skills. However, the length of the... read more

Comprehensiveness rating: 3 see less

The textbook is a slim 110 pages and contains the essential chapters of any first-year college composition textbook: College Success Skills, The Writing Process, Essay Structure, Types of Essays, and Research Skills. However, the length of the textbook does not include the numerous hyperlinks that provide additional information and learning opportunities. On the other hand, the textbook is overly reliant on other OER textbooks, namely Writing for Success from Saylor Academy, and one feels as if they are entering a rabbit hole of information without any guidance when clicking on these hyperlinks. The textbook does not contain an index or a glossary. It does contain three appendices with additional readings, multimedia sources, and assignments.

The textbook contains very few typographical or grammatical errors. One page stated, “This is where you can add appendices or other back matter,” so somewhere in the editing process this part of the template was not deleted. Information is accurate and unbiased.

Relevance/Longevity rating: 4

The subject matter is up-to-date and contains the basic elements of any first-year college composition textbook. However, the textbook contains hyperlinks to other sources that are not up to date. In addition to outdated links, the textbook contains links to other sources or sites that require logins, which creates a dead end because no guidance is provided. Very few hyperlinks are embedded within the text of the chapters. Largely, the hyperlinks are relegated to the end of the chapters within a variety of informational boxes to include headings such as Works Cited, Further Resources, and Sources. Most of these informational boxes contain hyperlinks, so the textbook should be easy to update since the majority of the textbook's hyperlinks are in one of these three locations at the end of each chapter.

The textbook is easy to understand and would be accessible to a student who is taking first-year college composition. Jargon and terminology are given ample context; many times hyperlinks are provided for additional information. For example, a section that covers how to “Use Transitions” provides a definition of transitions and a hyperlink for specific examples of transitions.

I enjoyed the consistent layout of the chapters. The chapters of the textbook have a uniform numbering system. Furthermore, the chapters always start with an Introduction section that contains an image, a list of Learning Objectives, and “A Student’s Story” that helps put the chapter’s content into a realistic scenario. The headings and subheadings are used consistently. The chapters end with a variety of additional informational boxes to include headings such as Works Cited, Further Resources, and Sources. These are also uniform in design and color from chapter to chapter.

The textbook’s chapters are divided into smaller reading sections with consistent headings, subheadings, and use of text effects. Short paragraphs are easy to read and navigate as are the outlines and bullet points. The table of contents allows the instructor to assign chapters out of order with easy-to-use navigational links.

Organization/Structure/Flow rating: 4

The textbook is organized logically for a first-year college composition course. The student learns about college success skills and intellectual standards before moving onto content-specific information regarding The Writing Process, Essay Structure, Types of Essays, and Research Skills. The chapters provide a consistent path for instructors to use. While the chapter order is logical, the textbook would benefit from providing easy-to-find sample essays within the “Types of Essays” chapter. One must really search to find sample essays for the students to follow.

Interface rating: 3

The textbook is available to read as a PDF, online, or as an e-book. The textbook is easy to use on a laptop or a smaller device like an iPad. The graphics are more attractive on a laptop and the navigation works better on a laptop; plus, a helpful search engine is provided when using a laptop. Some hyperlinks are outdated, while others require a login prompt with no guidance from the textbook. The hyperlinks do not open into new tabs, so reader must click the back arrow in order to return to the textbook. However, if the reader is using a smaller device like an iPad, the reader is not taken back to previous page. Usually, the reader is returned to the beginning of the chapter or to some random page—never where you were in the textbook before clicking on the link. Therefore, a laptop or a desk top computer should be advised to use in the description of the textbook where the format options are given. Images are clean and crisp.

The textbook contains minimal grammatical errors.

Cultural Relevance rating: 3

The textbook was published in Honolulu and written and designed by English writing instructors from various campuses in the University of Hawai‘i system. The description of the book says, “The content aligns to learning outcomes across all campuses in the University of Hawai'i system.” As a result, the textbook focuses quite a bit on Hawai‘i. The stories, examples, and jargon are largely from Hawaiian culture. The textbook is not offensive in any way to other cultures; I’m just not sure if the Hawaiian-centric content would have a broad appeal.

Textbook contains the basic topics that should be covered in a first-year composition course. It would be ideal for a semester that is eight or ten weeks long. However, the brevity of the text would prove challenging for a semester that is the typical 15 or 16 weeks long. I would also use it as a supplemental text for a second-year composition course, a technical writing course, or an argumentative writing course because it would be useful as a refresher of the basics that many advanced composition textbooks do not revisit.

how to write an essay for english composition

Reviewed by Nick Hart, Adjunct English Instructor, Johnson County Community College on 4/21/22

The textbook is only 5 chapters + appendices. In addition, the textbook does not include an extensive grammatical or formatting section. Learning basic grammar and formatting practices are essential skills in first year and second year comp... read more

The textbook is only 5 chapters + appendices. In addition, the textbook does not include an extensive grammatical or formatting section. Learning basic grammar and formatting practices are essential skills in first year and second year comp courses. Regarding the formatting section, I did observe links to valuable websites such as the Purdue OWL, which is a practical bridge.

I did not notice any errors in my review of content. Furthermore, the content is easy to read in terms of color combinations and balancing of thoughtful images with the necessary text.

The content is current and relevant. My concern is the shortened length of the textbook. For the comp texts I use in my courses I'm used to anthologies that might exceed 500 pages + appendices.

The content is easy to view. Furthermore, the text invokes a warm and inclusive tone to it.

Consistency rating: 4

I would like to see more links for writing errors, punctuation, and grammar. I am unconvinced a comp chapter should include a chapter on college success skills. Shouldn't this content be taught in a separate course? Students who take first year comp courses will have a varying degree of abilities, meaning some students will not require content on college success skills.

The length of chapters is accessible for students who are unwilling to commit extensive amounts of time to reading textbook chapters.

Delete the college success skills chapter, and replace with a grammar/syntax/punctuation/writing errors to avoid chapter.

The textbook is easy to navigate, review, and explore.

I did not notice any errors.

See previous comments about inclusivity and warmth.

I could see myself using this book for future comp courses, but I would have to heavily supplement my lessons with additional handouts, exercises, and links. Chapter 4 talks about the different types of essays. I found this section to be somewhat incomplete, considering comp courses can also assign classification papers, cause and effect papers, comparison contrast papers, and so forth. The comp courses I teach require students to write distinctly different papers from start to finish. If the course focuses on one type of writing, (i.e., argumentation but different modes of argumentation in a comp II course) then a text that only focuses on this type of texts would work.

Reviewed by James Thomas Grady, Professor, Bristol Community College on 6/30/21

Provides substantial amounts of varied content. read more

Provides substantial amounts of varied content.

Scholarship is reliable, accurate and timely. Content is well-sourced and attribution is very clear and up front--a nice model for students.

Articles tap into the immediate currency of our times--Some content might need a refresh in a few years.

Clarity rating: 3

Writing is accessible and very clear. Perhaps some pruning/compression in parts. Sometimes the activities are a tad vague in purpose and scope.

It seems like the text has a coherent voice--This is important for students who struggle connecting to a text. There's nothing wrong with having a redundant layout and style when students are engaging with a text over a semester.

Modularity rating: 3

I wish the sections were more "chunked." Some have too many varied topics in one block.

Excellent progressive and developmental approach to stacking content.

Very clear navigation and visual "hamburger" menu.

No errors found.

Selections emphasize college-level literacy and seem bereft of any bias.

I like this text's organization approach in both design and content. The readings are challenging in all the right ways, asking students to demand college-level rigor of themselves in reading, writing and critical thought. I wish the activities had more targeted goals/outcomes for the students.

Reviewed by Judith Hague, Adjunct English Instructor, Bristol Community College on 6/29/21

COMPREHENSIVENESS - The textbook offers a good basic overview of the elements of writing for first year composition students. It is well organized and clear which makes for easy reading. Each chapter consists of a Learning Objective which... read more

Comprehensiveness rating: 4 see less

COMPREHENSIVENESS - The textbook offers a good basic overview of the elements of writing for first year composition students. It is well organized and clear which makes for easy reading. Each chapter consists of a Learning Objective which indicates the chapter's focus. The objective is followed by a student story. There are also exercises at the end of each chapter and an additional resources section for reading as well. An appendix is located at the end of the textbook which consists of place based and culturally based readings as well as online videos and additional readings. I would suggest that many of these videos and readings may have engaged students more by placing them throughout chapters in the text.

I found this text to be very accurate throughout. I am not aware of any errors.

This is a basic first year writing text, and the content is relevant today and may well be in the future. However, it can easily be updated if the need be.

I found this text very clear, and the language very easy to read .

The chapters are arranged in a pattern and the terminology is equally consistent as well.

The text can be broken up into smaller units, and the readings can be realigned with different subunits without any difficulty.

This text was very well organized and the material was clear and logical.. The book was broken down into five chapters and 3 appendixes. Each chapter started off with a Learning Objective, followed by a Student Story, an activities section, and reference section.

The text easily transforms into an e-reader, and the pdf version is easily downloaded and read without distortion.

I did not find any grammatical errors in this text. It seemed to be very well edited.

Cultural Relevance rating: 4

The text has examples from the Hawaiian culture because it was created for a Hawaiian University and its students. It also has an appendix which consists of culturally based readings that provides an inclusion of ethnicities in the text.

COMMENT: This text is brief, easy to read, and well organized. It offers a good overview of the elements of writing for first year college students, and it is an OER textbook which makes it free and affordable for students. It can easy be supplemented by handouts, readings, and videos to enhance the student's learning and more actively engagement them as well. I am really impressed with what the authors of this text did in creating it in only three days.

Reviewed by Alexis Teagarden, Associate Professor & Director of First-Year English, Massachusetts Department of Higher Education on 6/29/21

First-Year Writing (FYW) textbooks grow increasingly expensive, with their additional online platforms and expanding list of topics covered. 'English Composition: Connect, Collaborate, Communicate' by Inoshita et al. provides a scaled-down set of... read more

First-Year Writing (FYW) textbooks grow increasingly expensive, with their additional online platforms and expanding list of topics covered. 'English Composition: Connect, Collaborate, Communicate' by Inoshita et al. provides a scaled-down set of materials, addressing core writing concepts and common classroom problems (e.g., email missteps). The authors’ knowledge of first-year students’ typical missteps speaks to their FYW experience, a welcome background.

The textbook primarily reads like a series of concise lectures, which present students with important concepts and core vocabulary. It touches on central ideas in Rhet/Comp and Writing Studies, such as discourse communities and writing as a recursive process. It takes a charitable view towards common plagiarism issues, framing patch-writing as a novice-writer issue; it is perhaps not so kind to the K-12 system seen to produce such writers.

The chapter on research skills struck me as the least comprehensive, praising the importance of ongoing research rather than providing concrete ways students can successfully develop lines of inquiry. But that is an issue in publisher textbooks, too.

Content appeared accurate and error-free. Since multiple pedagogical approaches for teaching English composition exist, a book this concise could not represent them all. So it does present a specific approach rather than cover all of possible ways of teaching.

Some Writing Studies faculty may argue with the process-oriented, traditional approach this text takes; it does not advance cutting-edge assignments or pedagogical approaches. However, that might contribute to the text's longevity. Its approach remains a common one across U.S. universities, one unlikely to change anytime soon. The modular design of chapters also opens the opportunity to add new material without rewriting the entire book.

Clarity rating: 4

The writing avoids overuse of jargon, assuming a primary audience of novice/first-year writers.

However, I found the book more often tells students what to be than shows them how to be it, and I think that could result in some clarity issues. Students, for instance, are told “Conscientious college writers begin thinking about and researching essay topics immediately after being given the assignment.” But what “thinking about” assignments means is not unpacked. While chapters offer activities, they would likely require more scaffolding on the instructor’s part than provided, since the textbook often does not provide sufficient illustration for a novice.

Some principles are modeled or operationalized. When discussing letters of reference, the authors provide a detailed breakdown of how to write the necessary “formal email” request. The supplementary materials at the end also provide an OER list of readings focused on place (here, Hawai‘i ) and more detailed activities and assignments. None, however, provide evaluation criteria or means of assessment. Making full sense of what the text means will require work by the instructor on behalf of the students. Most classes benefit from the instructor bringing a textbook to life, though, so I do not see this as a major issue.

Most chapters follow a similar pattern. They open with stories about students, each having a different background and corresponding writing problem. The diverse representation of college-goers might help more readers find themselves in the text or broaden ideas of what a college student can be.

Chapters end with a Works Cited box and (re)linked references. This practices what the book preaches. OER references are linked within the text as well, simplifying things for the user, e.g., the section on Dweck’s growth mindset links directly to her Ted Talk. Some chapters also provide links to student models, published in the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa’s undergraduate journal.

Terminology appeared consistent.

This text appears designed to support modular as well as linear use. Since chapters focus on a different aspect of writing and use different framing stories, instructors could assign chapters out of order without confusing students. Chapter divisions will be familiar to most first-year writing instructors, as they follow a common division of tasks (college skills, the writing process, researching, etc.).

The modular nature and patterned chapters creates an organized text. Since the chapter topics are quite big, ways of navigating within them is important. The clearly named and linked sub-sections accomplish this.

The open-access platform offers an easily used online ebook. The downloaded pdf version seems slightly less elegant in format, but no issues actively impede use.

No errors impeded my reading.

I saw nothing that would concern me while teaching. The vignettes depict a variety of students engaging with writing and writing struggles; this conscious choice does good work expanding the image of who goes to college and who gets to be a "good writer". Examples mostly arise from the authors' local context, and faculty elsewhere might find it useful to swap in models from their local context.

Overall, 'English Composition' offers few of the bells and whistles I associate with for-profit first-year composition textbooks, which now seem as highly-designed as a spaceship. This is not necessarily a detraction. I find instructors often prefer to create their own explicated activities, detailed models, and discussion prompts. Such activities also work best when tailored to individual class needs. So while 'English Composition' does not provide a complete plug-and-play curriculum, it’s also unlikely instructors would need one.

What this textbook does offer is concise overviews of standard Rhet/Comp and Writing Studies’ concepts, saving faculty the time of creating learning materials on them or writing up corresponding mini-lectures. The book would work well as a background text, to give students an overview in advance of an activity or application. It could also serve as a reference for assigned homework.

I’m grateful for the authors’ work developing this book and for their generosity in sharing it as an open-access resource.

Reviewed by Leah Van Vaerenewyck, Visiting Lecturer, Framingham State University on 6/23/21

The text offers a neatly organized and comprehensive index and appendix materials. The introductory chapter is well-intentioned with tips for effective communication in college, but it also assumes that all professors have the same... read more

The text offers a neatly organized and comprehensive index and appendix materials. The introductory chapter is well-intentioned with tips for effective communication in college, but it also assumes that all professors have the same standards/expectations for communications from their students. For example, I do not need an email from a student if they are going to miss a class; they are adults and my courses establish the expectation that they get themselves caught up independently. I do not need or want to respond to their personal issues; however, the sample email on p. 5 establishes the expectation that students send an email for every absence. One big missing piece in this text is any attention to citation styles. They are mentioned briefly at various points throughout the text, but no citation style is given a full treatment. The text also advocates for citation managers, but experience shows that students who rely on those generators have very little understanding of how to execute a citation and do not develop an understanding of the difference between a journal article title and the name of the journal itself (for example). Many professors caution students against these "short cuts" and this text would undermine that advice. A great strength of each chapter is the blocked out learning objectives. This is a useful guidepost for students as they read.

Content Accuracy rating: 3

The text is appealing because it is brief, but it tries to do too much in too little space. For example, Section 1.3 on sentence clarity is underdeveloped and could potentially give students the idea that modifiers and punctuation are the only considerations that matter when evaluating sentence clarity. A separate section could cover this more thoroughly, or the authors could leave the subject out all together, allowing the professor to select appropriate handbooks or other ancillary materials. There are some font inconsistencies throughout that are distracting but don't hinder understanding (for example, the penultimate bullet point on page 17)

The text is generally easy to follow and content will remain reasonably relevant.

The text takes a very basic approach to all its subjects, making it appropriate for a first-year college student, specifically first-generation or academically underprepared college students. Sometimes, though, this simple approach leads to a lack of clarity. For example, on page 85, there is some discussion of A Word About “Drive-By” Citations (which may point to an intellectual honesty issue, since this sounds a lot like Graff & Birkenstein's hit-and-run quotation). In any case, the idea is introduced, but not clarified. Students would need to see an example (or many) of this sort of dangling quotation and its antithesis to develop an understanding of how to sufficiently connect sourced material to student ideas or to other sourced material (by way of synthesis).

The text's chapter structure and tone are consistent throughout. The text has a consistent treatment of rhetorical analysis and considerations throughout, making the concepts introduced here easy to translate/apply to multiple kinds of assignments in the composition course.

Smaller sections of the text could be assigned effectively without losing much. One strength of the text is its reference to outside sources. Although links often become dated, it might be worth providing some hyperlinks to resources that can be reasonably expected to remain stable for a few years or more.

The TOC and learning objectives for each chapter are strong organizational features. The headers and sub-headers are consistent, though they could be more visually appealing to assist in scanning/navigation. The discussion of structure in the writing process and in the editing chapters could be reorganized to a consolidated, single discussion of structure.

The text is very easy to navigate and is visually simple.

The text is grammatically sound.

There are culturally diverse readings/considerations included in the appendix materials, but little to no attention paid to linguistic diversity or culturally specific/relevant pedagogies throughout.

Reviewed by Julie Odell, Associate professor, Community College of Philadelphia on 6/22/21

First, the college success chapter should include specific tips on annotation. Also, the growth mindset has become controversial for a number of reasons (it's a deficit ideology, ignores the material and emotional conditions of students' lives,... read more

Comprehensiveness rating: 2 see less

First, the college success chapter should include specific tips on annotation. Also, the growth mindset has become controversial for a number of reasons (it's a deficit ideology, ignores the material and emotional conditions of students' lives, and research doesn't support its success in student learning outcomes). Even so, this textbook merely summarizes it without giving students strategies to develop a growth mindset.

The section Intellectual Standards for Quality will overwhelm many students in the introductory chapter (or they will skip it altogether). The language and tenor are also too formal. The standards themselves would be better woven through the chapters and written in more of an advising tone. They are great ways to evaluate an essay when a student is at the editing stage.

Letters of recommendation instruction does not belong in the first chapter--the textbook should stick to academic essay writing and maybe include this as an apendix. Also, letters of rec. covered in First Year Experience courses at most colleges.

English Composition teaches text-based academic writing at most schools. In the chapter on the writing process and essay structure, activities ask for personal essays on non-academic topics. I would LOVE to have seen some real-world essay prompts for text-based assignments, even from different disciplines as English comp courses serve students' future writing-intensive courses. Also, citation is tacked on at the end, briefly, while it should be integrated throughout.

In the chapter on the writing process, the writers emphasize drafting an essay in 75 minutes and offer no other possible strategies. I find most of my working adult students end up writing their drafts in pieces as they organize their time, which can be a successful drafting strategy. Or else they spend two hours or one hour. Why 75 minutes here? I'd only teach a 75-minute draft process for a timed in-class essay. Also, for the free writing activity, it would be great to ask students to free-write about something specific as that will be the case most often. It's rare they will be able to free write about whatever is on their mind and then draft an essay on a specific prompt.

As for essay structure, the chapter asks for a thesis that "must present an argument," which just isn't accurate for many prompts. It sounds like every assignment will be to write an argument essay. Also, a thesis statement is often more than one sentence. In the section on weak thesis statements, it would be great to include a revision of each to make it a strong thesis statement.

Then it recommends body paragraphs that all support that thesis, sounding much like the five-paragraph essay. In truth, English comp prompts can ask for all sorts of combinations of rhetorical moves (requiring more complex thesis statements). Also, this should introduce citation and use of source material, as most academic essays will require that. Again, some real-life academic essay prompts would be great here, as well as strategies to address them.

As far as the author's audience, in truth, the audience for academic writing is professors and other students. Any sort of "letter to the editor" model is not academic.

Needs much more on language usage.

Also, I realize instructors from the University of Hawai'i wrote this, so the examples of code-switching are culturally relevant to them, but for much of the country, code-switching is used by Black students, Latinx students, Asain students, and students from all over the world.

The section on editing could use some specific strategies, like reading out loud, having the word processing program read the essay out loud, printing and working off hard copy, etc.

As for grammar, "Most college writers struggle with only one or two main grammar blindspots" just isn't true. Also, there is such specific instruction on punctuation. I'd like to see the same for sentence boundary issues, passive versus active voice, even capitalization, which, in the age of texting and social media, is chaos.

Also, the section on rhetorical modes is a bit too pat. Most real academic essay prompts ask for a combination of rhetorical moves and often don't identify themselves as a specific mode. It would be great to see more about combinations of modes, and connection to actual academic essay prompts. Also, the activities for each rhetorical mode were too simplistic and not academic. "Evaluate a restaurant" is not an appropriate prompt for a college-level writing course.

Finally, at most schools, English composition and research writing are two separate courses. And the section on research skills is rushed anyway. Again, I believe use of sources, citation, APA versus MLA, and essay format need to be integrated into earlier chapters.

See comments above--in several areas, I found content inaccurate in terms of what happens in English comp courses.

Because I think the content does not address enough of what's required in academic writing, I can't speak to this.

I found the prose too formal, and, especially in the first chapter College Success Skills, too scoldy and too much "you must." I wonder why this wasn't written in second person to address the student directly. It has a "sage on the state" quality and needs a more "guide on the side," student-centered tone.

The text is consistent.

The textbook is well-organized and is visually pleasing with plenty of white space and attractive, though generic, photos.

As I wrote above, I believe the use of source material and citation needs to be integrated throughout the textbook.

The book's interface is clear.

The grammar is excellent.

Code-switching needs to include various races and ethnicities. Growth mindset can be exclusionary, ignores students' realities, trauma, previous educational experiences, and so can be racially problematic. The tone of the text, particularly the first chapter, often sounds authoritarian and too stern, too "sage on the stage." It also ignores the fact that 50% of all students today are first-generation. I believe this requires a more supportive tone, and, again, more of a "guide on the side" tenor. For example, "Speaking of 'presence,' students must be physically, psychologically, and intellectually present in class each period to learn everything they possibly can" is so not great as instruction (sounds like an old-school non-student-centered syllabus) and holds students to an ideal they may have never encountered and may not be possible at all times. There is a mental health crisis on college campuses--pre-pandemic, 87% of college students felt overwhelmed by all they had to do, 66% felt overwhelming anxiety, 56% felt things were hopeless and 13% seriously considered suicide. Imagine post-pandemic! A chapter on college success absolutely must address this and do so with kindness, which means telling students how to manage stress, depression, and access mental health services.

Reviewed by Tabitha Espina, Assistant Professor, Eastern Oregon University on 6/14/21

The range of the text is particularly impressive. The first chapter consists of College Success Skills that are relevant to many first-year students' experiences. I liked that the text explicitly framed success in college with a narrative of... read more

The range of the text is particularly impressive. The first chapter consists of College Success Skills that are relevant to many first-year students' experiences. I liked that the text explicitly framed success in college with a narrative of student experience, to show that these concerns are not isolated and rather address an entire community of first-year college students. Moreover, practical tips like "presence" and attendance, how to write an email, how to read a syllabus, time management, and even civil discourse are explored. Often I have to use multiple sources to address these different skills and topics, but I appreciate that these all can be found prefacing this text. What I found particularly helpful in the first chapter was the description of intellectual standards and terminology related to the fields of rhetoric and composition. Intellectual standards are described to show what type of writing is associated with quality and how writing is typically evaluated. However, I would have liked if "standards" were framed as subjective, reflecting the values of a community or institution, rather than primary criteria. I think it is important not to refiy assumptions of deficiency, and a decolonial pedagogy recognizes multiple meanings and ways to arrive at those meanings--even if they are not recognized by standards of the dominant culture. However, this is a small concern compared to the other important terms discussed in this chapter. Rhetoric is often not discussed, much less defined, explicitly in first-year composition, but the descriptions given in this text are given necessary context and explanation. Moreover, I often teach rhetorical analysis in my composition courses, and many students lack familiarity with the rhetorical appeals. I like that the rhetorical appeals are outlined in this first chapter, so that students have a reference readily available to conduct their analyses. The second chapter demonstrates the processual nature of writing, moving from ideation to publication or sharing. In addition to the process, I like that a genre analysis is available in the third chapter, wherein the different parts of an academic essay are given specific focus and direction. I like that I have a resource to provide students that allows them to look at the composite parts and see the coherence, in order to become familiar with the genre of an academic essay. In addition to parts and process, the fourth chapter further evaluates genre by rhetorical modes, allowing students to see the multiple purposes, patterns of development, and approaches of an academic essay. Finally, the fifth chapter is especially useful in outlining the core principles and processes of research, which are easily adaptable to the different research style sheets, like MLA, APA, and Chicago. I find that many of my students do not know how to begin the research process, and I appreciated that topics such as time management and properly citing sources to avoid plagiarism are discussed in clear, descriptive detail.

Content Accuracy rating: 4

The information is highly accurate and synthesizes topics in contemporary composition, such as that related to process theory, code-switching, counterargument, rhetorical appeals, and civil discourse. I would, however, have liked to see more on linguistic diversity/translingualism, pluriversality, or language/discourse communities related to diverse student language experiences. Nevertheless, the online citation management tools described, for example, are those still commonly utilized by students. Some cited material is as recent as 2020.

By providing multiple chapters that describe the function and genre of an academic essay, the text remains relevant. Chapter 2 describes the processual nature of the composing process and how to approach the various steps in writing an essay that adheres to what the text calls the “nine primary intellectual quality standards” (1.3) of clarity, precision, accuracy, depth, breadth, logic, significance, relevance, and fairness. Chapter 3 describes the conventional components of an academic essay. Chapter 4 looks at rhetorical modes and patterns of development, with particular focus on those most often encountered by first-year writing students: narrative, evaluative, process analysis, and persuasive rhetorical modes. Chapter 5 provides research guides and principles that can be applied to specific disciplines. The college success skills are practical and can be applied throughout a student’s academic career.

The text is highly accessible. Terminology from the fields of rhetoric and composition are clearly defined, provided context, and also often framed in student narratives that illustrate the relevance of these terms. Additional resources are linked to provide additional context or clarification.

The text is consistent in both tone and content. Chapters are prefaced with an introduction that includes a visual, foregrounds the significance of the topics discussed, and outlines specific learning objectives. Subchapters have activities and sources specific to the content. The framework is undergirded by the “nine primary intellectual quality standards” (1.3) of clarity, precision, accuracy, depth, breadth, logic, significance, relevance, and fairness, and the language of the quality standards are used consistently throughout.

The text is logically divided with clear subheadings that guide readers’ understanding of the topics presented within subchapters. The chapters, themselves, can function independent of one another and do not need to be read in succession in order to be understood. Furthermore, subchapters can be assigned individually, as each has its own contexts and topics, and many have their own activities.

The text follows a clear, logical organizational structure. Prefacing the text with college success skills addresses issues of preparedness that underlie success in writing courses. The organization of the chapters reflect a contemporary philosophy of composition by positioning writing courses within the larger context of college success, then discussing a processual approach, then describing the conventional genre, then addressing multiple rhetorical modes, and finally presenting the conventions of scholarly research that make writing public and accessible. This organization moves from broader to more specific concerns.

The interface is highly effective. Visuals are utilized that compliment the text and are representative of a diverse student body. Learning objectives and activities are positioned in colored boxes, and sources are set off and hyperlinked in a bottom box. The collapsible Table of Contents makes the text easily navigable. My least favorite visual, however, was that used as the cover, as I do not feel it fully represents the vibrancy of the text’s content and style.

I did not observe any grammatical errors throughout the text.

This book was most impressive to me because of its culturally responsive and culturally sustaining approaches to the teaching of writing. The visuals and stories reflect a diverse student body and experiences specific to the context from which the text emerged, aligning specifically to learning outcomes across all campuses in the University of Hawai'i system. I most appreciated the Appendices, which include place-based and culture-based readings that are geographically significant, online videos and readings relevant to the Hawai’i and Pacific context, and suggested assignments that are culture-based, using “the culture, ethnicity, language, and traditions of people groups as engaging and relevant approaches and topics” (Appendix 3). These Appendices are relevant and useful to my own instruction with Asian American and Pacific Islander students.

I am grateful for the existence of a text that is so culturally situated and attuned to the needs of students within its context. I hope that similar texts might emerge from other Pacific Islands.

Reviewed by Sharon Graham, Instructor, English Composition, Fort Hays State University on 5/21/21

This text includes useful material for all main areas of typical first-year college English composition classes. In some ways, it feels like an expanded outline that provides a solid foundation on which to elaborate. I, for one, appreciate the... read more

This text includes useful material for all main areas of typical first-year college English composition classes. In some ways, it feels like an expanded outline that provides a solid foundation on which to elaborate. I, for one, appreciate the relative simplicity of the text while at the same time realizing the need to supplement (which I do anyway even with bulkier textbooks). The part where I would like to have seen additional content is the section on editing. Although an exhaustive list of grammar, punctuation, spelling, and other language items that might require a writer's attention is nearly impossible to produce (and really not desirable), the section in the text seems to be rather "hit or miss," especially when it comes to the table of examples. In addition, the text is missing an index and glossary.

The bulk of content appears to be accurate and unbiased. However, a few of the hyperlinks are either broken or link to the wrong page. For example, the link “Essay Development: Good paragraph development: as easy as P.I.E.” under "Further Resources" in section 3.3 is broken. Under "Further Resources" in section 4.5, there is no link to the "Ethos, Pathos, Logos" video, and the link for the first sample persuasive essay takes you to an unrelated website.

As previously mentioned, the main content reflects traditional first-year composition classes and is not likely to change anytime soon. The writers include several examples that have more direct relevance within a Hawaiian context, but not exclusively; the key material is relevant with plenty of room to adapt to different environments as necessary. Some may question the inclusion of "College Success Skills" in the first chapter, but since first-year writing classes are generally intended to contribute to students' overall success throughout their course of study, I think the information is relevant even if it is a review for some students. The majority of the students I currently teach are online-only and do not take the typical "first year experience" class required of on-campus freshmen. In addition, they often have been away from the academic environment for a number of years; thus, starting off with some basic skills for student success would be beneficial.

The language of the book is clear and approachable. It does not use intimidating language, but neither does it seem to talk down to students. Although there is no a glossary, many of the more technical terms are defined in context.

The layout of the text is mostly consistent. Chapters begin with a list of learning objectives followed by "A Student's Story" section. Consistent font sizes/styles are used within chapters to identify section headings, main content, etc. An "Activities" box is included for most (but not all) sections. One area of consistency that might be improved is the use of "Works Cited" at the end of some sections and "Sources" at the end of others; section 3.3 actually includes both (I think the writers are perhaps trying to distinguish between smaller bits of cited material and larger portions of information from a Creative Commons source, but this could be a little confusing especially to students).

The book's modularity is one of its strong points. I felt the content was divided into appropriate chunks that could be easily assigned and referenced.

I found the organization to be logical, very similar to what I follow in my own teaching. One detail I especially appreciated in section 5.3 in the "Research Skills" chapter is the discussion of Works Cited/References pages before in-text citations; as the text itself states, "The information in the in-text citation will be whatever the first word is in the Works Cited entry. For that reason, it can be easier to add in in-text citations after the Works Cited page has been created."

The eBook and online interfaces are easy to navigate for the most part. Wherever you are on a page, there is an arrow that will take you back to the top where you can access the table of contents and the corresponding links to different chapters and sections of the book. This is true for the mobile experience as well. I appreciate having a PDF version available, but there is some wasted space (although as another reviewer pointed out, it is easier to search the PDF version).

I did not find any glaring grammatical errors.

The book often incorporates examples from the Hawaiian culture, which is appropriate for the context of its writers. I don't think these locale-specific examples are necessarily a problem to include; rather, they can provide opportunities to discuss the importance of audience among other things. Even more, I see them as a model for instructors to follow in either inserting examples of their own that might reflect the local college context or asking students themselves to share examples that reflect their specific cultural background.

Overall, I found this text to be a viable OER option for first-year college writing. It provides a suitable basic foundation in terms of content and organization. The writers include several practical ideas and "tricks" for students throughout the chapters.

Reviewed by Kole Matheson, Lecturer, Old Dominion University on 5/16/21

The text offers a comprehensive overview of the current-traditional approach to English Composition. The genres explored in the text are typical of “first-year English” classes of the last century. Furthermore, the text accounts for established... read more

The text offers a comprehensive overview of the current-traditional approach to English Composition. The genres explored in the text are typical of “first-year English” classes of the last century. Furthermore, the text accounts for established learning outcomes of the field, which include information literacy, writing as a process, and knowledge of grammatical and citation conventions. The text exceeds expectations of comprehensiveness in that additional sections on college success skills are included, which is not typical of a current-traditional approach to writing.

The text accurately reflects the current-traditional approach to the teaching of composition. The content therein aligns with other textbooks in the field that deploy this approach to freshman writing. There are no factual errors present in the text.

Relevance/Longevity rating: 2

As the text reflects the century-old approach to the teaching of college composition, its relevance is waning. Countless textbooks are published in the field that explore the current traditional approach to freshmen writing, which leaves the reader wanting for a more immediate contribution. Emergent practices in the field are not treated by the text; rather, the established approach to current-traditionalism is rearticulated for an open access audience.

The text is written clearly and concisely. Especially helpful are the graphic organizers, example outlines, and activities that aid the reader in understanding and applying the content of discussion.

The text is consistently designed and user-friendly. Section headings, subheadings, bulleted points, reflective conclusions, and “further resources” offer a consistent structure within each chapter of the text. This consistent and predictable design enhances the readability and accessibility of the content.

Modularity rating: 4

The text’s modularity is sound. The various chapters could be read sequentially or in isolation. Depending on the instructor’s preference, the chapters could be presented from cover-to-cover or in some other sequence that serves the goals of the course.

The text's organization is typical of the current-traditional approach to writing. In fact, the text follows the directions it prescribes to students in that a clear writing process is the foundation of understanding how writing happens. Next, the focus on process culminates in a variety of approaches to essay structure. Finally, the text closes with a discussion on best practices in research. As such, the organization of the text outlines the typical structure of a semester of freshman composition.

I read the PDF version of the text and did not encounter any issues with the interface. The text is viewable, graphics are positioned well, and images are appropriately placed.

There are no glaring issues with the grammatical structures in the text.

Cultural Relevance rating: 2

The cultural relevance of the text might be critiqued, especially as the field of writing studies continues to grapple with issues of diversity and cultural competence. The text rightfully claims that “one language is (not) better than another.” However, the section on “Intellectual Standards of Quality” seems to contradict this claim. The uncritical depiction of “academic English” as “clear for everyone” actually leads the reader to infer that one language variety is more communicative than another. Still, the focus on Hawai'ian culture is novel and important.

To date, this is the most comprehensive and well organized current-traditional writing text I have seen in open access publication.

Reviewed by Rochella Bickford, Associate Professor, Kansas City Kansas Community College on 4/25/21

While the book provides a simple overview of a first-year composition course, there are many elements that would need to be included if it were to be used in courses that need to address different modes and genres of text. There are limited... read more

While the book provides a simple overview of a first-year composition course, there are many elements that would need to be included if it were to be used in courses that need to address different modes and genres of text. There are limited readings and assignments linked to the units, as well. Some of the assignments would require teaching additional skills or providing exemplars. For example, in 1.2 on College Success Skills, a student who was new to the concept of close reading and annotation would do better with a video and visual example of what it means to think through and annotate a text. There were no scoring guides, and linked rubrics would have been helpful to both students and instructors. There is no index or glossary.

There are more types of writing taught in first-year composition courses than what the textbook covers. For example, the text covers narration, process analysis, evaluation, and persuasion. However, students may need instruction in other types of writing, such as descriptive, expository, or argumentative essays. It wasn’t clear why section 4.2 listed several types of writing and noted that most of those types would not be covered. More importantly, teaching students to write objective summaries of text is an essential skill missing from this course. The section on writing a thesis statement (3.2) was not quite accurate in the limited description of where a thesis statement could be located in a text.

In recent years, the ideas of how grit, determination, and having a “growth mindset” have been largely criticized for discounting the real obstacles that many underprivileged students face. This text heavily emphasizes the growth mindset, so any updates to new research or evidence-based practices with this approach would need to be added. Some of the student “stories” may need to be updated to reflect recent and relevant views and contexts.

Most of the text uses clear and simple prose that is widely accessible to students. With instances where students are learning new words and concepts (such as annotation), exemplars or a glossary would be helpful.

Each of the sections begins with the same pattern: photograph, learning objectives, and a “Student’s Story.” Students will readily recognize the start of each unit. However, some sections contained activities and further resources, but some sections omitted these parts.

I reviewed the online version of the book. While the interface is very easy to navigate, it is almost too simple. There is no way to navigate within a page/section once you are on it. The pages of text are very long. I am looking for materials to use in an integrated, reading and writing course that pairs with a first-year composition class. I don’t think many students will take the time to read the entire page. If an instructor wanted to assign a section of the page, there isn’t a way to direct the students to a specific point.

The section on citing sources (5.3) could have been clearer in regard to MLA and APA format. This section mentioned citation management before it discussed what citations were or how to use them. It would have been nice to see links to the APA and MLA at the start of this section, as opposed to the very end. It was nice that the text linked to sources such as the OWL at Purdue University. Overall, the organization of the book was clear. Since this is a subject that is recursive as opposed to linear, it would work with any course structure or outline.

Due to the large “blocks” of text on many pages, additional, embedded graphics or videos would have helped to support the text. The inability to click on direct links to move to different areas of a page makes the reader scroll through the whole section before finding relevant information.

Grammatical Errors rating: 4

There are a few grammatical errors in a few places. There are some awkward sentences and fragments. For example, in Citing Sources (5.3), “Using notes and bibliography is preferred” has a subject/verb agreement error. At the end of that section, one of the assignments asks students to “Put away a plagiarized essay and tell the instructor or peer mentor what you wrote.” It was very difficult to understand what the assignment is asking the student to do.

There do not seem to be any culturally offensive or insensitive references in the text. While the text mostly focuses on Hawaii, there are texts and videos that reference other races and cultures.

This is a simple and clear outline for a first-year composition text. It would be a great resource for students who are learning online, as long as the instructor can be very specific about the sections the students need to review. Instructors can expect to add several additional resources and exemplars to strengthen the content.

Reviewed by Karin Rhodes, Instructor, Salem State University on 7/2/20

This concise textbook is a good overview for newcomers to college. I like the first chapter on Success Skills; regardless of orientation workshops and First-Year Experience courses, freshmen need these skills to be repeated and reinforced. Our... read more

This concise textbook is a good overview for newcomers to college. I like the first chapter on Success Skills; regardless of orientation workshops and First-Year Experience courses, freshmen need these skills to be repeated and reinforced. Our institution's writing program is now emphasizing "genre" and "multimodal," neither of which are addressed here. I also would have liked some more help with "peer-reviewing" in the Revision chapter. There is no Index nor Glossary, and it is sometimes difficult to track down specific information. (The online version's search was useless, but the pdf and the ebook were more searchable.)

As far as I could tell, all the information was "accurate," but I cannot say it was error-free. (see Grammatical Errors and Clarity)

The book's audience is specifically Hawaiian, but that only makes it more interesting to read. I found it ironic that in the "Close Reading" section, the students are instructed to use colored pens/highlighters and to use "the front of the book" for notes. This is irrelevant if we don't have a print textbook. Information about how to do this with ebooks would be more relevant, wouldn't it?

The text is USUALLY clear and quite readable, but there are still some rough spots that weren't worked out in the editing. For instance, in the Revision chapter, in Table 1, the term "subordinate clause" is not defined and the example given seems to be a mistake. (Also, Table 1 claims to be about Punctuation and Mechanics, but it is about grammar or style. I mean, the rule that "using 'so' to mean 'really' or 'very' without using 'that' is an error" is NOT a punctuation rule.) Throughout, words are defined in-text, but could just as well be hot-linked. As I said above, "subordinate clause" is not explained, yet frequently the authors use a construction such as "English is a polyglot language (made up of multiple languages)."

SOME in-text citations were hot-linked, but not all. There would be a Works Cited in the middle of one chapter but not the next; why not just leave it to the end of each chapter? In Chapter 4, the hot-links were erratic.

In general, this trait is good. However, a more thorough numbering of the subsections would be so much more helpful. For example, 4.2 could have been further labeled 4.2.1, 4.2.2, and 4.2.3. If the students are using the pdf, page numbers can be referred to, but if they are using the ebook, will they understand "Look at the table at 41%"? How am I supposed to direct them to certain Activities boxes? If most of (at least) one of the chapters is pretty much from Writing for Success, why shouldn't I just use THAT source?

The main outline is organized as I would do it myself--quite standard. Style hints are interjected into the other chapters as the concepts arise, which is fine if the book as a whole will be used but creates a problem in the "modularity" trait. The format of starting with Learning Objectives and A Student's Story was nice, but consistency in adding Works Cited, Sources, and Further Sources would be nice.

Interface rating: 2

Some links do nor open correctly or misdirect. ADA compatibility is weak; the ebook has a lovely built-in reader, but the images do not have descriptions. I especially LIKED this text because of the variety of formats: online (ho-hum), pdf (too much wasted space; vertical format not so great on a laptop), ebook (my favorite; easy to read in a horizontal format). I was unable to test it out on a smartphone, which is how most of my students would probably access it.

Grammatical Errors rating: 3

In the section explaining the importance of punctuation such as commas, they left out the end-stop period! (I suppose this could be used as a teaching moment, but, really...) The font size went fluky in a couple of spots (got larger for no apparent reason). In at least two spots, I found problems with quotations. One was a quote that was opened and cited, but never closed. The other was at the beginning of the first chapter (some introduction!) The Student's Story was actually quoted from Michelle Obama's speech, but there were no quotation marks and no introductory remarks to indicate to the student-reader that the passage was anything other than the authors' words. Very confusing.

All the examples are Hawaiian. I don't think this would offend any students or make them feel "left out." The intended audience appears to be first-generation college students (which is my main demographic). There is no special sections or hints for ESL students, but the discussions of "code-switching" and Pidgin language is really interesting and enlightening for any student.

I am looking for "one-stop-shopping" in a textbook. This one covers the basics, is quite readable at the freshman level, has activities, gives examples (though not full student papers), and comes in various formats. Unfortunately, the book could use one more diligent edit. More links could be useful (for definitions, for further sources, maybe some exercises).

Reviewed by Padma Sundar, Adjunct Faculty, Bunker Hill Community College on 6/23/20

It covers all the areas a faculty would look for that can serve as a bridge course between high school and college. The topics range from functionalities of language to dynamics of it. The travel from the writing process to types of writing and... read more

It covers all the areas a faculty would look for that can serve as a bridge course between high school and college. The topics range from functionalities of language to dynamics of it. The travel from the writing process to types of writing and ending in research skills complete the cycle of learning required for students to embark on in-depth writing required as they go along in their 4-year college course. The examples provided at the end of each topic reinforces the concept. However, as a faculty, I would have looked for some more exercises with answers for practice. The authors can consider the idea of having a practice book with answers and sample essays as an addendum.

The language used is error-free and accurate.

The topics and activities chosen are relevant in terms of topic and timing. For example, the inclusion of thesis statements, strong and weak thesis statements just before essay writing gives students a definite approach to write an essay. The technique involved in writing a strong thesis statement makes the task of writing an essay easier. The definite transition from a narrative is very commendable as it allows students to embark on a journey of simple to complex. The students start from the art of narrating a story to convincing the audience in what they believe strongly with evidence. All these activities are relevant to what happens in their day-to-day life so their involvement and immersion are complete.

The language used is simple and the students from different backgrounds(ESL) can easily understand the concept. They may find some terms like citation, evaluation, and analysis challenging initially, however, as the course progresses they learn these and get familiar with. Afterall the aim of doing a course is to dwell into something new.

There is definitely a regular progression from simple to complex in the text and the end of the topic exercises cater to reinforcement. The text offers a lot of clarity to students on the topics covered and dwelled in detail to help them understand the concepts needed for effective writing.

The text has been very clearly organized into modules easily accessed according to topics.

There is a definite structure to the text with topics ranging from mechanics of writing to applying them in different forms of writing. The inclusion of student stories in between is a novel concept. The stories make students feel that the fears they have are normal and experienced by many likewise. The structure of the book helps the faculty to structure the syllabus on the lines of the book. The progression from simple to complex and concluding with researching skills leaves students well prepared for their next journey.

The book offers a good navigation process. The graphic organizer for the persuasion chart (pg. 22) could have been on a separate page that way the students can photocopy it and use it for their essays.

The text is strong in language with least or no errors in grammar.

The text can be well understood by students. The fact that the stories do not mention the background of the students is commendable. That way they can relate to students from different backgrounds. The emphasis on place-based and culture-based readings is direct evidence of an inclusive approach of the authors.

The book serves as a good source for faculty in devising their syllabus for College Writing 1. It has all the right things in place and gives a sense of direction to all those who are guessing as to what their starting point should be. The activities are well-graded and there is a logical and holistic approach to the course. I recommend this to all my colleagues who are new to teaching College Writing.

Reviewed by Stephanie Viens, Adjunct Faculty, Bristol Community College on 6/22/20

The text appropriately covers all subjects relevant to an entry-level writing course. As an adjunct faculty members teaching Communication and secondary English Language Arts teacher, I find this text wanting for naught in terms of topics covered.... read more

The text appropriately covers all subjects relevant to an entry-level writing course. As an adjunct faculty members teaching Communication and secondary English Language Arts teacher, I find this text wanting for naught in terms of topics covered. The content on introductions and conclusions could be slightly stronger by including full example introduction and conclusion paragraphs. The section on Rhetoric likewise has a bit of room for improvement, as it seems to suggest that "rhetoric" is a term students should be familiar with, but the relevancy beyond could be explained more explicitly. Some examples of how students might see/hear this term used in various courses would be helpful. Additionally, while most technical terms are explained throughout the chapter sections, there is not a glossary or index for quick reference. The content on citations could be a bit more clear by providing a few more examples of in-text citations; one explanation suggests that "when using a signal phrase" the in-text citation may differ, and the term "signal phrase" is unclear (a clearer example could be offered).

Content is accurate, error-free, and unbiased.

The "student story" examples provided are current and relevant to today's students. The organization of these short segments is such that they could be easily updated to reflect online learning environments that students might be experiencing or other changes to the overall student experience. The academic content is up-to-date and will remain current for many years to come, as the writing rules and processes covered are not apt to change in the near future.

The text is written in a clear fashion that is accessible to 100-level college readers. Technical terms are explained appropriately and thoroughly.

While the topics covered are all connected by way of the central goal of the text, there are a few minor "disconnects." For instance, the beginning of the text covers intellectual standards for quality, including but not limited to "clarity." The section on clarity explains and provides examples of misplaced and dangling modifiers and their impact on clarity. This content is important, and I feel it would be worth including again in the section on Editing, as students should seek out unclear modifiers during the Editing process.

This text is easily and readily divisible into smaller sections that can be assigned as needed, in varying order. The layout is clear and well-spaced such that pages or chapters could be disseminated to students as reference material or "worksheets" on particular topics, particularly the content on citations.

The chapter topics and sub-topics are well chosen and organized. The few number of chapters makes it easy to recall where one is in the text while reading. The sections are clear and the subsections are well-organized.

The text's interface is easy to understand and navigate with no issues in display or distortion of images, figures, etc.

The text is grammatically sound. There is one run-on sentence which may lead to some confusion in the section on "Researching" segment of the Prewriting section (#1 of the two often misunderstood aspects of researching).

The "Student's Story" section of each chapter adds to the inclusivity of the text. The content appears to be relatable to most students of various backgrounds.

I would feel confident using this text in an entry-level college writing course. I was pleased to find that much of the content on structuring and organizing writing aligns with popular and widespread knowledge of speech structure. I teach Public Speaking classes and always appreciate clear overlap between teaching writing and teaching speaking!

Reviewed by Marie Pabst, Adjunct Instructor, Bunker Hill Community College on 6/11/20

This book provides a very comprehensive description of all the parts of the writing process. Additionally, when discussing each stage of writing this book gives clear and effective strategies that writers (especially emerging undergraduate... read more

This book provides a very comprehensive description of all the parts of the writing process. Additionally, when discussing each stage of writing this book gives clear and effective strategies that writers (especially emerging undergraduate writers) can use to really engage effectively in the writing process. This book provides many small examples that students could use (such as the examples of sentence revision in the revising and editing chapters, or links to examples of argument writing) but does not directly provide full writing models for students. In addition to providing this comprehensive description of the writing process, this book breaks down a basic essay structure with sections on “Opening Paragraphs,” “Body Paragraphs” and “Conclusions.” All three of these sections discuss and dissect thesis statements. While I appreciated the concrete and clear nature of these chapters, I did find the description of this essay structure to be a bit too close to a “five-paragraph-essay,” which is something many of us teaching composition classes are trying to move beyond. In the Types of Essays chapter, this book describes Narration, Process Analysis, Evaluation, and Persuasion. Once again, in each of these sections, the authors give clear and sound advice and examples to help students engaged in this type of writing. While I would have liked to see more discussion about what unifies these essay types, I do think these four essay types cover most, if not all, writing that students will engage in during their undergraduate years.

The descriptions of the writing process and the types of essays in this book is very accurate and clear. My one concern is the chapter on Essay Structure, and the way that this chapter seems to suggest limitations on a thesis statement that is not always true for more complex writing, and the simplicity of describing an essay using the modality of the five-paragraph essay (in description, not necessarily in name). However, the information and examples in this chapter are accurate descriptions for what would be expected in this highly-structured essay writing, and many of the ideas and examples that are shared in the Essay Structure chapter could also be applied to more complex writing as well even if taken out of the “Opening paragraph, Body paragraph, Conclusion” structure.

This book is up to date, relevant right now, and will remain relevant since it covers aspects of undergraduate writing and undergraduate learning that are quite standard.

This book is extremely clear and easy to follow! Aspects of this book I found most helpful (for myself and my students) were: the learning objectives at the beginning of each chapter, the clear and concrete examples provided throughout the book, and the effectiveness of the book's organization. This book is very accessible for any undergraduate, and I believe it would be a very helpful book to use with all students, including non-native English speakers.

Terms in this book are used clearly and consistently throughout the whole text. This book reads as one well-thought-out text that was developed with a flow of learning in mind.

The chapters and sections of this book are organized in a way that allows any instructor to pull chapters or sections to suit their needs. One could easily use a single chapter or single section from a chapter to supplement another course text, or take chapters or sections from this text and compile them from essay examples, etc. to create a cohesive text for an introductory undergraduate writing course.

The organization of the book flows clearly from discussing the writing process, the structure of an essay, and essay types. Each chapter is made up of sections that flow logically from one to the other, but that could each be used as a stand-alone resource or students as well.

I read this text both as a .pdf and as an online text. Both were very easy to navigate. The online version had the additional benefit of making it easy to use hyperlinks in the table of contents to move around from chapter to chapter, section to section.

The grammar and conventions use is excellent.

The authors clearly used real student examples from their diverse university setting in this book. The student examples and images in the text are representative and inclusive. Additionally, in the appendix, there is a discussion and list of resources to help instructors think about place-based and culture-based readings.

Overall, as an instructor of undergraduate composition, I found this book to be an extremely helpful resource that will be highly accessible and helpful for my students.

Reviewed by Nina Presuto, Adjunct Professor, Raritan Valley Community College on 4/7/20

The text offers a clear scope and sequence of the writing process. Topics covered include prewriting, brainstorming, drafting, and revising/editing. Each of these steps, building upon previous step(s), creates a strong foundation for its topic,... read more

The text offers a clear scope and sequence of the writing process. Topics covered include prewriting, brainstorming, drafting, and revising/editing. Each of these steps, building upon previous step(s), creates a strong foundation for its topic, and leads to the next step and mastery of the basic writing process. It provides concise definitions for each term, explanation of process, and activity to apply skill. Resources augment instruction to delineate, support, and reteach information as needed.

The text is accurate and unbiased. The content begins by explaining writers'/readers' purpose and continues with visuals and outlines to illustrate writing techniques and structures. This teaches the student reason for writing and creates templates and checklists for students to follow and replicate in their work. It effectively teaches the basics of writing an essay without bias.

The text is relevant. The basic structure of writing is presented in a clear and organized manner that can easily be revised should the user wish to augment the text. Additionally, resources and or graphic organizers can be inserted between clearly delineated sections if desired. However, the content is up-to-date, is the basis for good writing across time, and clearly teaches the writing process.

The language contained in the text's content is easily digestible for all student levels. Vocabulary include expected instructional terms such as brainstorming, freewriting, and chronological order with clear context clues to help low level learners understand them and their applications. Moreover, the text discusses "appropriate language" as it pertains to the differing perspectives of communities and therefore classrooms within those communities. Not only is the language this text utilizes appropriate and effective for the students it serves, but the text directly addresses the issue of language in academia.

Each topic is clearly presented. The textbook's structure is clear and accessible. The table of contents is clearly located on the left hand of each page and links to all areas of the text for ease of navigation. Students can easily advance from topic to topic to review content for clarity as needed. The text directly links to resources to aid in instruction as needed.

The text's writing style is succinct and compact. Material is broken down into major headings: College Success Skills, The Writing Process, Essay Structure, Types of Essays, Research Skills. Each chapter is prefaced by an introduction that outlines objectives and illustrates a student example and perspective to connect with, inspire, and engage the learner. Broken down into sections based upon its topic, each chapter can be addressed as a whole or by focusing on one specific element. Links direct students to resources to support structure as needed. Each lesson is followed by activities for students to apply the skills learned.

Presented clearly and logically, the text begins by introducing students to the rigors of academic performance and provides guidelines for how to be successful. Next, the text systematically approaches the writing process and builds upon its application. After presenting a foundation for how to write an essay, the text delineates the elements of an essay. The remaining chapters elaborate on essay types and provide an appendix of resources.

The text is free of navigation errors and students can easily move from one chapter/topic to another. The presentation of information is prefaced by large headings and medium sized subheadings above the text’s content. These features organize text and draw reader's attention to content. All content is presented in uniform size and is easily interpreted by the student. Links connected to chapters open consistently and accurately present information related to topic. The margins are free of distractions and resources and sequentially linked within text where the augment instruction.

Text is free of grammatical errors. Text uses a variety of sentence and paragraph structures. Items listed are appropriately indented and bulleted as needed.

Content is culturally sensitive and inoffensive in every way. However, some student essays and resources thematically focus on the Hawaiian culture of the authoring university rather than of a cross section of universities in general. These references may not be particularly meaningful to other university’s’ usage and may require additional and more culturally relevant resources be acquired.

While this text is an excellent resource for teaching basic essay writing structure to average and low-level learners, it is not useful for students who arrives in class already espousing a knowledge the collegiate writing structure. The content does not extend beyond the basic essay writing structure, and therefore, the information, while concise, does not engage higher-level learners. Second, the scope of content is narrow. It provides the basic argument essay structure, but does not delve into variations on the structure. It provides a list and definition of ten specific “typical modes of essays” from cause and effect through process analysis essays, but it focuses only on four specific models: narrative, evaluative, process analysis, and persuasive rhetorical. However, the models are presented summarily rather than with the in depth style needed for mastery of the subtle differences between the models. Furthermore, the research essay is not covered at all. On the while, this text is an excellent resource for teaching low to emerging level writers but requires additional resources to reach higher-level learners.

Reviewed by Frank Napolitano, Associate Professor of English, Radford University on 1/22/20

This book provides an overview of some of the main topics in writing instruction. I found the section on "Peer and Instructor Feedback" to be particularly useful (33). The activities provided at the end of each section enable students and... read more

This book provides an overview of some of the main topics in writing instruction. I found the section on "Peer and Instructor Feedback" to be particularly useful (33). The activities provided at the end of each section enable students and instructors to work together on manageable writing goals during class. Other sections, like "The Revision Process," (32), "Language Usage" (34), "Engaging the Reader" (36-37), and "Identify the Characteristics of Good Primary Support" (49) were less developed and would have benefited from a more extended discussion and examples from student writing. The list of punctuation and mechanical mistakes (38-39) isn't comprehensive and may reflect the types of errors that the authors see in their particular students. The book does, however, provide several helpful links to outside resources, like the Purdue Owl and citation management applications.

I like that the brief section on grammar acknowledges that students know many of the "rules" of grammar and usage not because they learned them from a book, but because of their lived experiences (34). Other claims don't seem to reflect the complexity of writing in its many forms, though. For example, the text says that "A paragraph is a collection of sentences related to a main point" (44), when many successful examples of writing contain paragraphs with more than one "main" idea. Also, sentences like "An introduction exists as the first paragraph in a 5-page essay" seems limiting, since many successful 5-page papers have more than one introductory paragraph. Finally, the following admonitions seem idiosyncratic: "That being said, college-level statements would do well to not include the word "should," as a means of trying to sound authoritative so as to make a solid argument" (47); "Remember, do not refer to your essay in your essay. By the time one enters college, such strategies for writing thesis statements have passed" (48). Countless essays in academic journals employ meta-commentary, so it seems odd that students should be warned against doing so.

Relevance/Longevity rating: 3

I really like the book's stance that argument is a "truth-seeking" endeavor (71). Given the horrible state of public discourse in the U.S., this focus on working toward the truth is much appreciated. The book's advice on avoiding plagiarism is also very helpful (78-79). In other areas, the book offers rather traditional guidance that doesn't reflect recent conversations about academic writing. For example, the "Persuasion Map," without proper guidance, could encourage students to produce formulaic 5-paragraph essays that don't really look like real academic writing. I would like to see more information about how college writing is an effort to contribute to an ongoing scholarly conversation. I also would have liked to see more information about how the modes of discourse covered in chapter 4 (60-61) are less reflective of discrete types of essays but rather rhetorical moves that authors can shift among in a single piece of writing. The book hints as much in one of its activities, where it encourages students to "identify the modes of writing found in the [sample] essay" (62).

For the most part, the book did an excellent job of conveying complex topics in accessible language. There were moments when the book would have benefited from more focused editing. E.g.: "Stating in the middle of a story with the conclusion of the story existing as the first sentence in the conclusion paragraph" (45).

There are minor errors in consistency. For example, in its section on conclusions, the text advises students: "If the writer started with statistics, offer more statistics" (54). However, on the next page, it warns students against "introducing new material" (55).

The authors did a good job creating a modular text. I hope to see them develop several of the sections in the future.

For the most part, the book was organized well, with separate chapters focusing on the writing process, types of essays, etc. Some organizational choices seemed questionable, though. for example, I can see why the section on "sentence clarity" would fit into section 1.3: the Intellectual Standards for Quality, but I think it would have worked better in the section dedicated to editing and proofreading (34-35). The book could integrate the Intellectual Standards for Quality into each of its chapters, since doing so would show readers how the standards inform everything the book discusses.

The book's interface was very good. One way to improve it would be to offer hyperlinked references from one section to another.

I noticed a few grammatical errors throughout the piece, and they were a bit distracting. * "she found that her vocabulary were embarrassingly limited" (24). * "Discussing the dangers of illegal drug use is with elementary and middle school students is one method that schools use to help dissuade young people from abusing drugs as they grow up" (47).

I think the book does a nice job of referring to the culture and vernacular of the Hawaiian people. Appendix 1: Place-Based and Culture-Based Readings does a nice job in this regard. I can see other institutions adapting this format to benefit their own student populations. I also like how a couple of the book's "student stories" focused on non-traditional students.

The authors did an impressive job with this resource, given that they had only three days and nights to complete the "book sprint." In fact, many of my criticisms seem unfair given that I'm comparing the text to books that were developed over extended periods of time, with considerable editorial support. I would love to see the authors develop and revise the text based on the feedback they receive.

Reviewed by Allan Anderson, Lecturer, Hawaii Community Colleges on 1/4/20

A first semester composition course has to make certain specific foundational choices about its topic. Do you want to emphasize analysis and paragraph structure? Thesis-building? How much should be given to research and argument, and the citation... read more

A first semester composition course has to make certain specific foundational choices about its topic. Do you want to emphasize analysis and paragraph structure? Thesis-building? How much should be given to research and argument, and the citation process? This textbook hits all of these topics well, but would function best integrated with further exercises and assignments which implement specifics. It comes across as an excellent introduction/survey of how to master composition.

The text never strays from the facts in content areas. Claims regarding the efficacy and value of parts of the writing process are backed up with research references. Citation directions and examples are clear, useful, and easy to apply.

The content covered is not radical; it proceeds through useful and standard methods of composition which are unlikely to require seismic revision any time soon. Contemporary examples are interspersed with classic ones. The web links and appendixes are arranged such that any further updates look easy for the authors and editors to develop.

You notice how the topic and word choice reflect the authors' time in the university and community college classroom, refining how they express their points. Sometimes it feels brief, but never because it is skipping over essential pieces. It states it is targeted at 100-level students, but I feel it would also be effective with developmental students a level below that. My community college students in English 100 were all able to grasp the sections I assigned from this text; no problematic areas stood out.

The team of writers appear to have collaborated tightly, making sure that terminology defined early on in the text remains useful to students throughout the entire book's topics. Once in a while, some areas of the text seems more developed than others. Usually, though, it's steady in its focus. The sections are broken down into the same subheading format throughout. Minimal confusion should ensue.

I used sections of this book out of order, supporting my own existing unit plans. The text sections are very to-the-point and focused on the essential information at hand, which made them plug in well. Subheadings are used frequently. Even more detail and development under each subheading would improve re-usability. In general, though, I did not encounter any troubling tangles.

I appreciate that the topics covered do not dive directly into writing an essay, but rather build up carefully and step-by-step through the portions and process of writing. This is the sort of instruction which helps bring together a class which starts with widely different backgrounds. Some student populations may be ready to dive right into paper-writing, which allows for more time spent on learning and practicing research. But this text's organization and choice of topics makes it very useful for a more heterogeneous community college classroom.

As far the interface's clarity and lack of error, this text is fine. Everything is where it should be and works correctly. The interface and layout only suffers from being a little boring. It could be improved by further editing attention to include more charts and images which set the scene of the work being done. But the text as it is remains useful and functional, with no interface problems interfering with student use.

Next to no grammatical errors turned up during textbook use, and none which proved confusing to students.

This text's cultural sensitivity and range reflects its state of origin. The University of Hawaii educator authors range from indigenous to African-American texts as relevant and valuable examples. Some other sections seem more generic; perhaps a future revision might include similar attentions throughout.

This text does an admirable job of covering a lot of ground without excessive verbiage. It reads as every section being useful to students and applicable to the Composition classroom. I plan to use it, adapted as needed, in my upcoming classes.

Reviewed by Lee Babin, English Instructor, Fletcher Technical Community College on 12/13/19

The book is a beginning to hopefully providing more in-depth lessons and instructions. Lessons touch upon different concepts of first-year college composition but rely on the person using the text to find almost all examples and supplemental... read more

The book is a beginning to hopefully providing more in-depth lessons and instructions. Lessons touch upon different concepts of first-year college composition but rely on the person using the text to find almost all examples and supplemental materials for further understanding of the concepts. There is a hyperlinked table of contents of the text, but no index nor glossary for the text. Chapters within the text are quite short, sometimes only covering one page in pdf format. Many of the chapters feel disjointed, not quite building on concepts of the previous chapter. In other words, the chapters feel like they are independent lessons rather than concepts building on previous information obtained. Chapter 4 introduces ten rhetorical modes of writing but only includes detailed instruction on four of them. There are no full internal writing examples in a composition text for students to get a sense of completion of essay composition.

Overall, the text has few noticeable errors. There are some formatting choices for headers and subheaders that lead to some confusion in the online text, but those same formatting choices seem clear within a printed (pdf) version of the text. References to "Sources" or "Works Cited" should be centered in the text to follow normal expectations of students producing papers. On P. 38 (pdf file), the first example references punctuation rules of compound sentences but uses a complex sentence as its only example; compound and complex sentences should be distinguished as different sentence types. Chapter 4 introduces different rhetorical modes of writing, but it presents only four of those modes in detailed instruction and includes them out of order from the introductory text. Also, the chapter introduction claims that there are "links to real student essays." However, 4.2 Narration provides no such link, and 4.3 Process Analysis and 4.4 Evaluation link to a journal with no obvious examples of process analysis nor evaluation. On P. 17 (pdf file), in the "Fairness" section, the font size changes in the middle of a sentence, beginning with the bullet point "Are there any fallacies..." and on P. 81, the first full paragraph does the same. On P. 45 (pdf file), "5-page essay" should be "five-paragraph"? The second bullet point on that page has an unnecessary comma in "attitude, toward" and there is a misspelled "Stating" instead of "Starting."

Overall, this section looks like it is doing what is expected. External links look like they can be easily replaced by current examples. Choices in MLA citation can be updated to the latest trends of the MLA style. Examples for the "A Student's Story" sections could easily be updated to modern/current problems when necessary. Appendix 2 gives a list of online content contained in the text, so that section can be updated as needed.

The text seems to do a decent job of being clear throughout on the terms used. There are several introductions to Latin and Greek phrases used in logic and rhetorical concepts with a definition of those words. A glossary and index could be helpful for further reference.

Terminology throughout the text remains consistent. Terms that are defined early in the text are used throughout. That is why the glossary may be necessary. Some terms are defined again, like ethos, logos, and pathos in 4.5 Persuasion.

Because the text is short overall, it does divide sections into smaller sections. In some cases, the sections are too small, with headers and subsequent spacing on the page dominating over actual instructional text. More specific examples could and should be included for each of those sections to give each header more information than what is on the page. For example, in 4.4 Evaluation, the four points of structure are spread out, but only the "Evidence" section has any further explanation. This section either needs bullet points with the definitions or full explanations with examples to give depth to the section.

Organization/Structure/Flow rating: 2

While the chapters are justifiably ordered by the book authors' preferences, there is little transition from one chapter to another and from one section of a chapter to another. Composition is a type of subject based entirely on adding more information building on previously addressed concepts and practices. While those concepts and practices are indicated, the authors do not explicitly make those connections from one chapter or section of a chapter to another. This may be a space or content decision, but understanding how each of the steps in the writing process connects with the structure of essays and the types of essays could help in giving students a more comprehensive understanding of English composition courses.

Pictures and graphics are minimal. The only effective graphic throughout is the 2.2 Prewriting graphic for making a Persuasion Map. However, that particular map seems to be out of place for the purpose of the book. Alike or similar graphs for other essay types would prove useful here.

All suggestions come from the paginated PDF version of the textbook. On P. 24 of the pdf, 2.1 Introduction, "vocabulary were" should be "vocabulary was." On P. 28, "According to the" is missing what the noun is. On P. 38, the first section gives a complex sentence example for a compound sentence rule: "Unless the surf is bad, we are going to surf in the morning." That should be an example like this: "The surf is bad this morning, but we are still going to surf." On P. 38, under "Absolutes," it states, "Avoid them in most all cases." The term "most all" is a colloquialism and is not proper for a textbook. On P. 45, "5-page" appears to mean "five-paragraph." On P. 45, remove the unnecessary comma in "attitude, toward." On P. 45, "Stating" should be "Starting." On P. 78, it should read, "Students' Stories" perhaps, but definitely not "A Students' Story" as it currently does. On P. 85, one of the citation examples is missing the opening quotation marks.

The text is not specifically geared towards a particular region, but the authors are all a part of the Hawaii university system. Therefore, some of the materials and examples given are based on their particular knowledge of the region. There are no noticeable insensitive or offensive materials throughout the text, and none of the examples of "A Student's Story" seem to indicate the student's race, ethnicity, nor background.

For being a three-day project as indicated in the Foreword, this is an impressive compilation. There is definitely potential in the future of the text with my main recommendations being to make the different chapters and subchapters of the book relate to previous chapters (including internal hyperlinks and an index and glossary section) AND adding more in-text examples for students to have an easier time comprehending and processing the information presented.

Reviewed by Denise Acevedo, Assistant Professor, Michigan State University on 11/13/19

Chapter 1 is odd as it does not use the Sections 2 or 3 as modes to introduce a learning narrative, for example; instead, the information consists of details that students should have received in their New Student Orientation program or a New... read more

Chapter 1 is odd as it does not use the Sections 2 or 3 as modes to introduce a learning narrative, for example; instead, the information consists of details that students should have received in their New Student Orientation program or a New Student Experience course. I recommend Chapters 3 & 4 be switched so students are introduced first to the diverse types of essay types; e.g. argumentative, expository, narrative, et al. as Chapter 3's Introduction, explanations and examples are solely from the argumentative perspective, which may make it more difficult for students to try other types of writing, especially first-year students as this point-to-point style is ingrained during their K-12 academic writing career.

In Chapter 5.1, the authors include an example of Jaden’s lack of commitment to research, and note that in his conversation with his teacher, he points out that he included both in-text citation and a Works Cited page. Although his formatting for both requirements were not perfect, he did, in fact, include some details on his external resources, so the authors might want to revise their wording of “Such plagiarism…” as Jaden did not, technically, plagiarize; instead, he was just not accurate in his citation details, which is different. Jaden may be lazy, but in the authors' example, he did not commit plagiarism.

The authors could have included real-life examples of varied Island languages, for example, via prior students' essays for more consistent learning and academic/workplace application.

Chapter 1 can be revised so that the voice is of a peer rather than someone talking to/at the student; e.g. "College students are expected to demonstrate independence, responsibility, and relationship-building skills" could become "As a college student, you will be expected to demonstrate independence, responsibility, and relationship-building skills" to make the advice and subsequent activities and assignments more relatable, and thus applicable, to first-year and non-traditional learners.

Consistency rating: 3

Yes, but some terms are more discipline-based; e.g. from an educator's professional vocabulary rather than a student's. When revised, consider the terminology from the students' perspectives, those who are first-year and non-traditional, and know, too, that in Hawaii there are numerous cultures and languages to be considered (and yes, I know the authors know this!), so perhaps include examples using the diversity of the Island. My recommendation here is somewhat developed in Chapter 3.1, "A Student's Story."

Chapter 1, in particular, has too much text; first-year and non-traditional students' interest and focus may increase if (1) graphics are incorporated and/or (2) real-life scenario examples are provided for students to practice during class as this will also allow relationship-building and trust to grow between students and students/educator. Chapter 2.2 could further develop and include examples of varied paragraph formatting styles; the style that is included suggests a Point-to-Point essay, but it is not as the last paragraph does not fit that P2P style. Chapter 3.2, though, only offers instructions from that 5-pararagph model, which is not always a realistic writing practice in the real world. A thesis statement does not always have to be arguable; a thesis statement, depending on the form of writing, can be opinion-based and this more creative in its narrative, which, also, is not always i the 5-paragraph structure. Chapter 4.2's Activities section is not correctly formatted, which may make it more difficult for students with accessibility barriers to read/decipher. If the authors include ten types of essays (Chapter 4.1), then they should include explanations et al. for all ten and not just four (4.2. 4.3, 4.4, & 4.5). Connect each Chapter to the "Clarifying Aristotelian Rhetorical Concepts" in Chapter 1.3 as rare references do not support cumulative learning and application practices. Chapter 5.2 should be moved to Chapter 2 as research is an integral part of the writing processes. The Citation Management in Chapter 5.3 offers three online citation support options; I recommend the authors either (1) use the OWL at Purdue only or (2) require students to purchase via OER a text that offers MLA formatting examples and exercises as EasyBib and BibMe do not use the most recent edition of MLA formatting guidelines.

The Chapters arrangement lacks flow as students should be introduced to pre-flection, research and formatting guidelines in the beginning of their academic writing career rather than in the middle or end of the semester. Updates could be made yearly as past students' examples are incorporated into each Chapter as examples and/or peer-editing practice.

The graphics, charts et al. are high quality, but as a learner with an LD (not assessed and diagnosed until my doctoral program!), some students may find "unpacking" tables, charts, and/or graphs more difficulty, especially as they relate to writing (Persuasion Map, 2.2), so an in-class activity that is included in the book may help students comprehend the mapping idea from a new, applicable lens. Most students will not know what Meta-cognitive (Chapter 2.2.) means. Will this be addressed as it is not in the SLOs? 2.3 could be further developed to include examples for students to peer review and discuss in class before they start drafting. Provide examples of 2.4's ARRR. So glad the OWL at Purdue link is included as this resources is current on MLA formatting, offers applicable examples and is free to students and teachers. I like the inclusion of frequency adverbs in 2.5 as I find my first-year writing students reply heavily on these parts of speech to convey what they believe are profound realizations. Consider adding more in-text or connect to the OWL at Purdue and discourage the overuse of these terms as they are vague in their meaning.

In Chapter 2, Introduction, the term "vocabulary" is used as a plural when it is a non-count noun and must be connected with a singular verb; e.g. In middle school, she found that her vocabulary was (not were) embarrassingly limited. In "A Student's Story," the commas are not uses correctly as the set-off portion is not an appositive, so the second comma should be removed; i.e. As she entered college and enrolled in her first-year writing course, she was anxious about attending a required conference with her instructor who was meeting with each student to discuss the rough drafts of their first essays. In 2.2., this is unclear as it is missing punctuation and a noun or pronoun: "According to the Leilani was shocked..." For 2. under Activities in Chapter 2.2, there is a missing comma: "For each writing assignment in class, spend three (add comma here) 10-minute sessions either..." Also in Chapter 2.2, #2 should include a hyphen for the compound adjective; e.g. "Writers become so involved in the research process that they don’t start the actual writing process soon enough so as to meet a due date with a well-written, edited, and revised finished composition."

I don't find any culturally insensitive content, but I admire that this text is written for a certain demographic, which is why I recommend the authors include examples that students will relate to, such as prior students' essays written in pidgin, which they can revise (as a collaborative activity, with the teacher's help) into Standard Written English to see how code-switching works and can impact their academic and professional writing experiences. If the text will be used (mostly?) in first-year writing programs in Hawaii, then include more examples from students who represent these demographics via names in the opening stories and student examples.

The text should be an exemplar for students, especially as first-year learners tend to copy what is presented, which is why I recommend that MLA formatting be consistent; e.g. Works Cited in 1.2, 1.3, 2.2 et al. be centered, as per MLA formatting guidelines. Chapter 3.2 & 3.4's external resources are not correctly formatted as the title is Sources rather than Works Cited, with each external source listed as per MLA formatting guidelines.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter 1. College Success Skills
  • Chapter 2. The Writing Process
  • Chapter 3. Essay Structure
  • Chapter 4. Types of Essays
  • Chapter 5. Research Skills

Ancillary Material

About the book.

This OER textbook has been designed for students to learn the foundational concepts for English 100 (first-year college composition). The content aligns to learning outcomes across all campuses in the University of Hawai'i system. It was designed, written, and edited during a three day book sprint in May, 2019.

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What is English Composition?

English Composition is a course designed to improve your reading, writing, and critical thinking skills. You are usually required to take the course during your first year of college, often broken into two sections. Typical course titles include English Composition 1 & 2 or 101 & 102, but the course titles and course requirements vary considerably.

The goal of English Composition is to teach students how to read and write effectively.

english composition world

What to Expect in an English Composition Course

English composition courses teach you how to use language and other communicative elements (e.g., visual elements) for a variety of purposes. Whether it's learning how to write an essay or research paper, speak confidently in class, or work on group projects, the skills taught in these courses can help you succeed in college and beyond. You'll be able to build your professional prospects with valuable analytical ability and communication skills. Composition courses almost universally address the aforementioned skills, though they vary a great deal in the types of assignments and projects they assign to students in order to promote development of these skills. 

Learning Outcomes from an ENG 101 Course - Example

By the end of the course, students will...

1. Use writing for learning, thinking and communicating to solve problems, draw logical conclusions and create innovative ideas.  

2. Identify and evaluate the main idea, major points and supporting details in a text, film, image or presentation.

3. Identify and evaluate the author's rhetorical choices in a text, film, image or presentation.

4. Differentiate between credible and noncredible sources and select appropriate sources for the writing task.

5. Identify multiple viewpoints pertaining to a given topic and engage in verbal or written discussion of those viewpoints.

6. Recognize writing as a recursive process of inventing, planning, drafting, revising and editing, and employ these strategies in written work.

7. Collaborate with instructor and peers to evaluate written work and incorporate feedback into one's writing.

8. Learn to recognize and adapt content, form, style and tone to the audience, purpose, context and requirements of a composition assignment.

9. Organize one's writing logically using a thesis statement and other organizational strategies such as topic sentences, transitions, and/or specific introductory and conclusion techniques to create cohesive, clear writing.

10. Integrate research into written work.

11. Define plagiarism and avoid plagiarism in written work and oral presentations through proper quoting, paraphrasing and summarizing.

12. Use an appropriate system of documentation in written work, such as MLA, APA, or Chicago Style.

13. Employ the conventions of standard written English and grammar, language usage, punctuation, word choice and style.

Learning Outcomes from an ENG 102 Course - Example

1. Replicate the outcomes for ENG 101 in more complex discursive samples with particular attention to interpretation, analysis and synthesis, while emphasizing analytical reading and writing, critical thinking, logical forms of reasoning and research methodologies.

2. Demonstrate the ability to adapt language and rhetoric that serves a persuasive purpose in written argument and anticipates audience considerations.

3. Demonstrate proficiency at incorporating source material into written work through the use of sophisticated research strategies to locate both primary and secondary sources in scholarly research. All sources are properly documented to avoid plagiarism.

4. Demonstrate an understanding of logical, ethical and emotional appeals in written and oral discourse and evaluate the impact of such appeals in a given rhetorical situation.

5. Identify and evaluate the claim, grounds and warrants in a given work for logical progression of thought and quality of argument.

6. Define and identify examples of logical fallacies in a given work and explain how they weaken the claim and/or support for the argument/analysis.

7. Explain inductive and deductive forms of logic and explain how arguments are constructed around these logical forms of reasoning.

8. Assess and interpret visual arguments in a variety of media as a form of textual analysis. Media can include film, photo journalism, print advertisements, billboards, commercials or other visual representations of argument.

9. Summarize, analyze, and critically evaluate both published and student-written arguments.

10. Utilize standard written English, language usage, punctuation, word choice, style and grammar within the conventions of academic writing.

11. Demonstrate the ability to present academic work in an appropriate system of documentation.

Types of Assignments in English Composition 

English Composition is a course that teaches you how to analyze a variety of texts through close reading and constructing meaningful arguments and critiques using textual evidence from a wide range of credible sources .

Unsurprisingly, essays are one of the most common types of writing assignments in the composition course. Being able to write a decent essay is essential to your success in the modern academic environment. There are many different types of essays; here are some of the kind you are likely to see:

  • Narrative Essay
  • Reflective Essay
  • Descriptive Essay
  • Explanatory Essay
  • Compare and Contrast Essay
  • Evaluation/Analytical Essay
  • Process Essay
  • The Problem/Solutions Essay
  • Persuasive/Argumentative Essasy
  • The Research Paper
  • Rogerian Essay

Formal essays are a large portion of your grade in any college-level writing class. You may be required to write several different types of essays on a variety of topics. Though there is overlap in the characteristics that define these essays, you will find they are distinguished by their preferences for certain organizational arrangements and modes of discourse . 

English Composition and Career Success

The ability to write and communicate well is now the core of many professional career paths. Employers want writers who can promote their product or service through compelling language, narrative, tone, style, and grammar. Those with good writing skills are a hot commodity in today's job market since they can also increase productivity by creating effective marketing materials, such as sales pages on websites or brochures intended for clients.

Employers may seek out those with strong English composition abilities even if they have experience in an entirely different field because it indicates that they will likely be able to adapt easily to new areas of work without extensive (and expensive) re-training.

English composition is also closely linked with other important 21st century skill sets such as critical thinking, analytical reasoning, and communication since it requires that students learn how to form arguments using facts, while being coherent enough that others will understand their points of view clearly. These skills are becoming increasingly valuable assets to employers who need employees who are both competent and creative.  

What are some ways to improve your English Composition skills?

First, you should read more. A wealth of knowledge is readily available on the internet and in free or low-cost ebooks. Reading will help you improve your vocabulary, grammar, spelling, punctuation skills, and your writing style. Second, you should study grammar rules, but don't fall into the trap of believing that good grammar equals good writing. Rather, keep in mind that most important skills a writer needs are analytical and rhetorical. You should expand and refine your knowledge of grammar and style as you build your rhetorical skills.  Third, you should write, and then write some more. Writing is—in a way—its own language, and you can't get better at a language without practice. Immerse yourself in the practice of writing, and not just for school assignments. Keep a journal, write to friends on social media or in email exchanges. When you combine consistent reading with consistent writing, you will accelerate your development as a writer.

5 Excellent University Writing Websites for English Composition Students

An Online Writing Lab (OWL) is a website or an online resource designed to help students improve their writing skills and be successful in their writing-intensive courses across the curriculum. A good OWL will support students at every stage of the writing process and provide resources for a variety of writing situations.

Most colleges and universities offer some type of writing lab or resource center, though not always online—here are 5 of the best online writing labs you will find. 

1. The Excelsior Online Writing Lab

excelsior owl

The Excelsior online writing lab may be the most extensive college writing lab in terms of interactive resources, hosting a vast range of H5P -based content, such as interactive slides, quizzes, and videos—in addition to numerous web articles. It's a great resource for both students and instructors of writing. The following video provides an overview of their site, and also illustrates the quality of their video resources. 

2. Purdue OWL

One of the most trusted online writing labs, and certainly the most visited, Purdue University's online writing lab offers an impressive vault of writing resources. Unfortunately, its greatest strength is also its biggest challenge, which is in trying to maintain a clean, organized presentation of so much information. Ads, pop-ups, and layout issues distract from an already daunting organizational scheme, but it has a search box and terrific sitemap to counter these issues.  

3. Colorado State University

Another fantastic website for writers and instructors is Colorado State University's writing resource page . Here you will find a generous and impressive number of guides, articles, writing samples, and links to additional resources for writers, including a collection of open-source textbooks on writing.

As with the Purdue OWL, navigating the site could pose a challenge, but it does provide a much less distracting reading environment. 

4. The Writing Center - UNC at Chapel Hill

User-friendly and extensive in its coverage of academic writing topics, the Writing Center by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is easily one of the best you'll see online—bookmark it if you're a student or teacher.

The Tips and Tools section is well organized and easy to use. Each of the topics is covered in great detail—the topic pages are good enough to be assigned reading or given as handouts in class if you're a writing teacher. 

With a few exceptions, the content pages illustrate important characteristics of online writing, such as the use of headings, bullet points, and white space. This page about blogging is a good example. 

You'll also find video icons next to the topics that include videos to supplement the instruction. 

5. Duke - Thompson Writing Program

Duke's Thompson Writing Program provides and curates a laudable selection of writing resources on its website . Many of their resources take the form of handouts, which makes the content convenient for teachers and students who want or need to work with print copies. 

The Writing Center - University of Wisconsin Madison

The Writing Center at UW-Madison provides an online writer's handbook covering an extensive list of topics to assist student writers with academic and professional writing—many of which can be printed as handouts. 

Note : their content menu is in the right panel of the webpage—most sites display menus on the left or on top of the page, while showing related or popular links on the right—so don't be thrown off; use the right-side menu to navigate topics (This advice applies to desktop browsers—the layout on mobile browsers was not tested).  

10 Reasons Students Drop Out of Composition Class

And finally, here's an entertaining video in which one particular English instructor combines the genres of the listicle, personal rant, and talking-head explainer video to help English students avoid common pitfalls—you might ask your own English teacher or professor for their top 10, as each will have their own preferences...and personalities :  ) 

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  • How to Paraphrase | Step-by-Step Guide & Examples

How to Paraphrase | Step-by-Step Guide & Examples

Published on April 8, 2022 by Courtney Gahan and Jack Caulfield. Revised on June 1, 2023.

Paraphrasing means putting someone else’s ideas into your own words. Paraphrasing a source involves changing the wording while preserving the original meaning.

Paraphrasing is an alternative to  quoting (copying someone’s exact words and putting them in quotation marks ). In academic writing, it’s usually better to integrate sources by paraphrasing instead of quoting. It shows that you have understood the source, reads more smoothly, and keeps your own voice front and center.

Every time you paraphrase, it’s important to cite the source . Also take care not to use wording that is too similar to the original. Otherwise, you could be at risk of committing plagiarism .

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Table of contents

How to paraphrase in five easy steps, how to paraphrase correctly, examples of paraphrasing, how to cite a paraphrase, paraphrasing vs. quoting, paraphrasing vs. summarizing, avoiding plagiarism when you paraphrase, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about paraphrasing.

If you’re struggling to get to grips with the process of paraphrasing, check out our easy step-by-step guide in the video below.

Prevent plagiarism. Run a free check.

Putting an idea into your own words can be easier said than done. Let’s say you want to paraphrase the text below, about population decline in a particular species of sea snails.

Incorrect paraphrasing

You might make a first attempt to paraphrase it by swapping out a few words for  synonyms .

Like other sea creatures inhabiting the vicinity of highly populated coasts, horse conchs have lost substantial territory to advancement and contamination , including preferred breeding grounds along mud flats and seagrass beds. Their Gulf home is also heating up due to global warming , which scientists think further puts pressure on the creatures , predicated upon the harmful effects extra warmth has on other large mollusks (Barnett, 2022).

This attempt at paraphrasing doesn’t change the sentence structure or order of information, only some of the word choices. And the synonyms chosen are poor:

  • “Advancement and contamination” doesn’t really convey the same meaning as “development and pollution.”
  • Sometimes the changes make the tone less academic: “home” for “habitat” and “sea creatures” for “marine animals.”
  • Adding phrases like “inhabiting the vicinity of” and “puts pressure on” makes the text needlessly long-winded.
  • Global warming is related to climate change, but they don’t mean exactly the same thing.

Because of this, the text reads awkwardly, is longer than it needs to be, and remains too close to the original phrasing. This means you risk being accused of plagiarism .

Correct paraphrasing

Let’s look at a more effective way of paraphrasing the same text.

Here, we’ve:

  • Only included the information that’s relevant to our argument (note that the paraphrase is shorter than the original)
  • Introduced the information with the signal phrase “Scientists believe that …”
  • Retained key terms like “development and pollution,” since changing them could alter the meaning
  • Structured sentences in our own way instead of copying the structure of the original
  • Started from a different point, presenting information in a different order

Because of this, we’re able to clearly convey the relevant information from the source without sticking too close to the original phrasing.

Explore the tabs below to see examples of paraphrasing in action.

  • Journal article
  • Newspaper article
  • Magazine article

Once you have your perfectly paraphrased text, you need to ensure you credit the original author. You’ll always paraphrase sources in the same way, but you’ll have to use a different type of in-text citation depending on what citation style you follow.

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It’s a good idea to paraphrase instead of quoting in most cases because:

  • Paraphrasing shows that you fully understand the meaning of a text
  • Your own voice remains dominant throughout your paper
  • Quotes reduce the readability of your text

But that doesn’t mean you should never quote. Quotes are appropriate when:

  • Giving a precise definition
  • Saying something about the author’s language or style (e.g., in a literary analysis paper)
  • Providing evidence in support of an argument
  • Critiquing or analyzing a specific claim

A paraphrase puts a specific passage into your own words. It’s typically a similar length to the original text, or slightly shorter.

When you boil a longer piece of writing down to the key points, so that the result is a lot shorter than the original, this is called summarizing .

Paraphrasing and quoting are important tools for presenting specific information from sources. But if the information you want to include is more general (e.g., the overarching argument of a whole article), summarizing is more appropriate.

When paraphrasing, you have to be careful to avoid accidental plagiarism .

This can happen if the paraphrase is too similar to the original quote, with phrases or whole sentences that are identical (and should therefore be in quotation marks). It can also happen if you fail to properly cite the source.

Paraphrasing tools are widely used by students, and can be especially useful for non-native speakers who may find academic writing particularly challenging. While these can be helpful for a bit of extra inspiration, use these tools sparingly, keeping academic integrity in mind.

To make sure you’ve properly paraphrased and cited all your sources, you could elect to run a plagiarism check before submitting your paper. And of course, always be sure to read your source material yourself and take the first stab at paraphrasing on your own.

If you want to know more about ChatGPT, AI tools , citation , and plagiarism , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

  • ChatGPT vs human editor
  • ChatGPT citations
  • Is ChatGPT trustworthy?
  • Using ChatGPT for your studies
  • What is ChatGPT?
  • Chicago style
  • Critical thinking

 Plagiarism

  • Types of plagiarism
  • Self-plagiarism
  • Avoiding plagiarism
  • Academic integrity
  • Consequences of plagiarism
  • Common knowledge

To paraphrase effectively, don’t just take the original sentence and swap out some of the words for synonyms. Instead, try:

  • Reformulating the sentence (e.g., change active to passive , or start from a different point)
  • Combining information from multiple sentences into one
  • Leaving out information from the original that isn’t relevant to your point
  • Using synonyms where they don’t distort the meaning

The main point is to ensure you don’t just copy the structure of the original text, but instead reformulate the idea in your own words.

Paraphrasing without crediting the original author is a form of plagiarism , because you’re presenting someone else’s ideas as if they were your own.

However, paraphrasing is not plagiarism if you correctly cite the source . This means including an in-text citation and a full reference, formatted according to your required citation style .

As well as citing, make sure that any paraphrased text is completely rewritten in your own words.

Plagiarism means using someone else’s words or ideas and passing them off as your own. Paraphrasing means putting someone else’s ideas in your own words.

So when does paraphrasing count as plagiarism?

  • Paraphrasing is plagiarism if you don’t properly credit the original author.
  • Paraphrasing is plagiarism if your text is too close to the original wording (even if you cite the source). If you directly copy a sentence or phrase, you should quote it instead.
  • Paraphrasing  is not plagiarism if you put the author’s ideas completely in your own words and properly cite the source .

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To present information from other sources in academic writing , it’s best to paraphrase in most cases. This shows that you’ve understood the ideas you’re discussing and incorporates them into your text smoothly.

It’s appropriate to quote when:

  • Changing the phrasing would distort the meaning of the original text
  • You want to discuss the author’s language choices (e.g., in literary analysis )
  • You’re presenting a precise definition
  • You’re looking in depth at a specific claim

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