Writing Well - Trivium Test Prep Online Courses
Reading Comprehension
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The Essay
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Writing Well

Writing Well

Although the content of an essay is of primary importance, the writing itself will also factor into the essay’s final score. Writing well means that the language and tone are appropriate for the purpose and audience of the essay, the flow of ideas and the relationships among them are logical and clear, and the sentences are varied enough to keep the reader interested.


Transitions are words, phrases, and ideas that help connect ideas throughout a text both between sentences and between paragraphs. Transitions can be used to imply a range of relationships, including cause and effect, sequence, contradictions, and continuance of an idea. Consistent and creative use of transitions will help the essay flow logically from one idea to the next and will make the essay easy for the reader to follow.

Transitions between paragraphs can also be polished by starting paragraphs with references to ideas mentioned in previous paragraphs or by ending them with a transition to the next topic. Such guideposts will guide the reader from one paragraph to the next.

Teens often think they are hidden behind their computer screens. However, providing personal information online can lead to danger in the real world.

In addition to helping students work better with each other, technology can also help students communicate more effectively with teachers.

They also have the opportunity to teach each other new skills.

Common transitions include then, next, in other words, as well, in addition to, another, because, first, finally, in conclusion, however, in fact, therefore, and on the other hand.


Syntax refers to sentence structure. A variety of well-written sentences will help maintain the reader’s interest in the essay. To create this theme, a writer can use sentences that differ in length and that begin with varying words, rather than repeating the same word at the start of each new sentence. It is also important for the writer to use a mix of different sentence structures, including simple, complex, compound, and compound-complex sentences.

This example paragraph starts with a short, simple sentence and follows with a longer, more complex sentence. The next sentence is also long, but it is a simple sentence with a single clause. The second-to-last sentence is complicated with multiple clauses, but it is immediately followed with a short, easy-to-read statement that ends the paragraph.

Technology can be a powerful tool for collaboration. When all of the students in a classroom have access to reliable laptops or tablets, they are able to more effectively share information and work together on projects. Students can communicate quickly via email, share files through a cloud service, and use a shared calendar for scheduling. They also have the opportunity to teach each other new skills since each student may bring to the group unique knowledge about particular apps or programs. When the availability of technology is limited or inconsistent, these opportunities are lost.

Tone and Word Choice

A writer’s tone and word choice influence the reader’s assessment of the essay. When writing essays, it is always necessary to choose words and tone that are appropriate to the task.

For instance, a formal essay on an academic topic may benefit from complex sentences and an expansive vocabulary. However, a first-person essay on a personal topic may use a more causal vocabulary and organization. In general, when writing for exam graders, it is best to use clear, direct vocabulary and avoid using vague, general words such as good, bad, very, or a lot. Showing variety in word choice can also help improve an essay’s score. However, it is better to use more familiar vocabulary than to try to impress the exam grader with unfamiliar words or words that do not fit the context of the essay.

The two paragraphs below discuss the same topic. The first has a word choice and tone for an academic essay; the second is written in a more relaxed, personal style.

Paragraph 1

Technology has changed massively in recent years, but today’s generation barely notices—high school students are already experienced with the internet, computers, apps, cameras, cell phones, and more. It is inevitable that these technologies will be begin to make their way into classrooms. Opponents of 1:1 technology programs might argue that students will be distracted or misuse the technology, but that is exactly why schools must teach them to use it. Students need to know how to navigate technology safely and effectively, and schools have a responsibility to ensure they learn these skills. By providing each student with a laptop or tablet, schools can help students apply technology to work more effectively with other students, communicate with teachers and classmates, and conduct research for class projects.

Paragraph 2

Technology is everywhere in modern life. We’ve all walked into a coffee shop full of laptops or have seen people walking with their phones in front of their faces. I know I’ve often looked up from my tablet to realize I’ve missed a whole conversation. With technology everywhere, it seems obvious that we would start using it in classrooms. Opponents of 1:1 technology programs say that technology will be too distracting or will be abused by students, but it seems like that’s an even more important reason for students to learn how to use it. Schools are where students learn all kinds of life skills, and technology is just another skill to learn. By giving students laptops or tablets, schools can help students work better with each other, work better with teachers, and learn to do better research.

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