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The power of simple words

Runa Rahman asks whether writing sometimes becomes a way of showing off as opposed to a way to communicate.

For many of us, essay writing is still an essential part of our studies whether that be in A-level courses or university degrees; for others, writing essays is a thing of the past as you may have dropped subjects that require such skills and pursued other areas such as maths.

Can you relate to this experience?

For one side of my history course, I have recently been getting a consistent score of 50% or less for the essay questions, which is not news that one would like to hear. The sole reason for this being my written communication; it is supposedly too fanciful and littered with long words, which mean nothing in context or are too hard to decipher.

Does this contradict what we have been taught?

Throughout our education, especially in English, we’ve always been told to expand our reading so as to acquire a firmer grasp of the English language both in its grammar and variety of vocabulary. You may have also been told to try not to use so many words to convey your message, where a few will do; all this resulting in the use of longer words.

Why is good written communication important?

The reason using long words cost me marks in my essay was because I sacrificed a crucial element of the mark scheme- written communication. Although my work contained a variety of vocabulary, its meaning was hard to pick out! A reader would have had to work hard to understand the implications of the writing, and subsequently, the work was not good written communication and it became more of a showcase of all these beautiful words I collected. This defeats the purpose of an essay which is to communicate your ideas effectively and efficiently.

An array of vocabulary can ultimately make a huge positive impact on your writing- improving your grade. However, it must be weaved in to the writing so that it enhances your content instead of dominating it. In short, aim for a simple, clear and concise essay that does showcase of your vocabulary and grasp of grammar, but can also be understood by any reader.

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