“Less is more” in writing English. When you construct sentences to create a paragraph, each sentence should be trimmed down to only what is necessary to clearly communicate your point.
Do you find yourself struggling to create a simple, clear way of writing your ideas in English? On the TOEFL exam writing section, especially on the independent task, eliminating wordiness can raise your score.
Here are four efficient tips to make your sentences concise.
- Do not repeat the same idea twice.
- Many uneducated adults who never went to primary school vote for improving the school system.
Examples of wordy phrases and how to trim them down.
|A lot of
|In recent times
|There is no doubt that
|Personally, I think
|Each and every
|A total of 10 pets
|In a period of five days
|One and the same
|Of particular interest
|In the event that
|At 12 noon
|A person who is smart
||A smart person
|At 1AM in the morning
|In the field of business
|He is a person who…
|In spite of the fact that…
|In the event that…
- Delete phrases that do not add value to your writing
|Delete unnecessary phrases
|In other words,
|In the case of
|By means of
|In the event that
|Have a tendency to
|For the most part
|As far as I’m concerned,
|By virtue of the fact that
|It seems that
|Due to the fact that
|For all intents and purposes
|At the present time,
|All things considered,
|In light of the fact that
|As a matter of fact,
|…because of the fact that…
|For the purpose of
|In a manner of speaking
- Avoid weak adverbs, choosing instead strong active verbs. The best effect is to use adverbs sparingly or only when necessary.
- Really, very, mostly, severely
- Avoid there is/are or it is
- There are 25 colleagues in the office. à 25 colleagues are in the office.
- There is a mess. à A mess exists.
In short, concise writing does not equal short sentences. You can still go into detail in body paragraph development. Aim for clear ideas by deleting unneeded words and phrases.
If you enjoyed this blog, you’ll like Transitions and Structure Create a Smooth Flowing TOEFL Essay.
Have you taken the GMAT once and felt that you want to raise your verbal score? Did you have difficulty getting through the sentence corrections? If so, consider your recent GMAT as a practice run to familiarize yourself with timing. To improve before your next attempt on GMAT verbal section, get strategies for sentence correction and implement those techniques in your daily studies to advance. Concentrate on content and timing.
Shoot for how much you need your verbal score to improve on your next exam by calculating how long you have to improve your score. Then, come up with a study plan focusing on sentence correction techniques and reading quickly to gain a foot forward. During your time frame for verbal improvement, review challenging questions in practice and dissect these to examine what insight you need to resolve simple concepts.
Analyze a sentence correction question:
- What is the verbal trying to test?
- Categorize a question by topic and subtopic, by process/technique (i.e. idiomatic expressions, parallel structure, modifiers)
- Practice taking apart the structure in a sentence to understand the structural core of the sentence (subject – verb – object…) If you do not see the entire core at once, start with identifying a pattern of where the subject is, and then identify the verb, and so forth.
- Understand the content (facts, knowledge)
- How well did you answer what was tested?
- Did you do the best approach? Or is there a better approach to respond to the problem? How can you remember the better approach the next time you get a similar problem?
- Did you use skills to follow through?
- Either give up if it’s too hard for the timing (and answer quickly) or give an extra 30 seconds to figure out the core.
- Did you make careless errors?
- Why did you make each error?
- What can you change to minimize the chance of repeating the same future error?
- Read the whole sentence using your chosen answer to notice if something is not right
- How do you look for traps or “trick questions” that are in the question such as incorrect answers?
- What steps do you take to ensure you made an educated guess?
- Do you recognize a pattern?
- Do you make a connection to the last time you saw a similar question to answer correctly…what was similar with other problems?
- What have you done in the past that is similar? How? How could that help you to do the problem more efficiently and effectively?
- How can you notice similar problems? What can you do to maximize your chance of remembering?
Strategies to enhance your skills to improve sentence correction:
- Read through the correct answers
- Do not go through and actually do the problems, simply read through the wording of the correct answers. Since GMAT has a set writing style, by reading through the right answers, you will get an idea of the correct answers. In this way, you may be able to learn better how to eliminate choices if any choice appears that does not conform to the GMAT set writing pattern.
- Be careful, because you should not use this as your principal technique for doing “process of elimination” of answers. Only guess if you cannot identify other grammatically formal ways to eliminate answers quickly.
- Write your own sentences involving the same types of errors
- Do not try to include all the same error types that appear in each problem [or you might end up with sentences that are copies of the ones in the problem], but try to include at least a couple.)
- Make flash cards of the problems (on one side of the card, color code each split between the answer choices in a different color with a highlighter, and on the back of the card in the same highlighted color write a short explanation.
- Colors are an easy way to recognize different explanations, telling them apart, when you put lots of splits on the back of a flashcard.
When the actual test day arrives, actively resolve to identify less perceptible logic and grammatical errors.
Caution with timing:
Spending much time on early questions may hurt, not help your score. Otherwise, you may run out of time and leave some questions unanswered at the end of a section. As unanswered questions are counted as incorrect, move at a steady pace to get through the entire section rather than concentrating on any particular subset of questions. Even those with high levels cannot sustain accuracy through the first eight questions. So, give every question you r best shot, but do not let any one group of questions drive your test performance, and avoid spending way too much time on the first eight questions or you may have to race to finish the section, a poor choice.
If you like this blog, check out this post Rules How to Use a Semicolon Accurately in the English Language.