Summer is underway but the fall school semester is peaking over the horizon. Or, if you’re one of those unlucky students attending summer school, you’re right in the thick of it. Either way, there’s a good chance you have to write an essay. And let’s face it: Writing isn’t everyone’s strength. If you struggle with writing, or if you simply don’t like writing, essays can be a source of considerable stress and frustration.
Luckily, there are ample tools and resources available online—for free—that can help you write better essays. I’ve assembled 10 of my favorite tools for you to check out. So don’t sweat it: Get writing!
Remember, the best tool for writing a great essay is the right laptop for the job – see our guide to the Best Laptops for College Students
This nifty tool that helps you with what is often the hardest part of writing an essay: coming up with a thesis. The tool breaks thesis writing down into multiple boxes where you input your information in pieces. When you click Submit, the tool then automatically generates a thesis for you. You may have to tweak it a bit to polish it, but the hardest part is done for you! The page also has a useful little guide to structuring your essay.
While International Student is specifically a site providing information for international students, their Student Essay Writing Center has a handful of detailed, actionable articles that guide you through the processes of writing different types of essays. They also have a collection of sample essays that you can use as a helpful guide for how your essay should be structured—but remember, don’t plagiarize!
Speaking of plagiarism, something to always keep in mind is that plagiarism can happen by accident. You might forget that you read something somewhere and write it into your essay, mistaking the idea for your own. Or you may not understand how much content you are allowed to quote in an essay. This free plagiarism checker allows you to either copy and paste your essay or upload the file directly to the tool. From there, it will analyze your essay and calculate a percentage of how much of your content is plagiarized.
This site was a lifesaver during my educational career. OWL offers detailed articles on works cited formatting, articles on subject-specific writing, teacher and tutor resources, and even offers ESL exercises. They keep their site up-to-date with changes to citation style guides, so be sure to check OWL out with each new school year.
5. Essay Help Online
Essay Help Online offers a handful of useful articles that walk you through the process of writing an essay. If you want a step-by-step guide on how to write a custom essay or specifics on how to write a research paper, this site is a good place to start.
6. Grammar Girl
Honestly, I love Grammar Girl. She knows what’s up. While spellcheck will help you with immediate and glaring surface errors, things like grammatical errors, homophones, and awkward phrasing can slip through the cracks. Virtually any question you may have about common grammar mistakes is answered on Grammar Girl. So when in doubt, look it up!
Say you’re writing an essay for a business class. You may want to use charts to illustrate certain information, like company revenue, company expenditures, or client engagement over time. This is where a chart maker tool can come in handy. Beam is free to use and allows you to create the four basic chart types: pie charts, bar charts, column charts and line charts. You are also able to choose from four snazzy preset templates.
It can be hard to identify weak sentences and awkward phrasing when you’ve been looking at your own writing for a long time. This clever app acts as a second set of eyes for your editing process. Just paste your text onto the page and it will highlight run-on sentences, common errors, phrases written in passive voice, and adverbs. You can also format your text directly in the app. So handy!
Part of writing better essays means knowing where to find solid sources. Google Scholar is a search engine that specifically indexes scholarly sources, so you don’t have to dig through piles of unreliable web pages. You are also able to save your sources in your library to save articles while you search. I know I have a habit of losing track of articles and opening way too many tabs–the library feature takes care of that.
Time4Writing offers a comprehensive eight-week writing course, but they also offer free articles that walk you through all the basics of writing like attention-grabbing introductions, sentence structure and types of paragraphs. It'll even develop your typing skills. If you want to go hard, go ahead and take the eight-week course—but if you’re looking for some quick tips, their free articles are great.