I am in the middle of grading stacks of undergraduate essays. If I could give one piece of advice to the students, it would be that they should read their essays aloud to themselves when preparing the final version.
For each sentence, they should ask:
- What is the argument I am trying to make with this sentence?
- Do I make my point clearly?
- Is there any way I can make the sentence simpler or more specific?
Most essays I have looked at have included sentences that no person would leave unchanged after reading them aloud. All the essays have featured sentences that are unnecessarily convoluted or too vague to express much of anything.
Particularly when your essay is destined to end up in a stack to be assessed by a grad student teaching assistant, it is essential to make sure that your sentences are comprehensible and advance the overall argument you are making.