Tag Archives: writing tips

Literary Terms and Devices Part II: Approaching Texts

toneFor those of you preparing for AP English Literature exam (May 2015) this summer, read on! For those preparing for essay sections on the ACT or SAT, bookmark this blog post. While we focused on generally foundational literary terms last week (metaphor/simile, symbol, allusion, hyperbole, and irony), today’s post highlights terms you should definitely stow in your tool bag for those essay portions of college entrance exams. These big guys (diction, syntax, tone, mood, imagery, and denotation/connotation) are all top contenders for analyzing a literary passage and most importantly, writing about it clearly and effectively.

Continue reading

Literary Terms and Devices Part I: Your Tools to Texts

metaphorJust what are “literary terms” anyways? Although they are certainly not for the faint of heart, literary terms are not reserved for future English majors, writers, and lifetime bookworms. Think of literary terms as tools to store with all that other luggage you rely on when reading a text, writing an essay, or encountering literature. Understanding these terms will mean possessing a vocabulary that will help you approach any text at any time. Convinced yet? Good! Let’s start building that literary backbone!

Continue reading

Grammar Boot Camp Part V: Affect or Effect? Commonly Confused Words

Snarky_affecteffectWhat’s the difference between “affect” and “effect?” Should it be “illicit” or “elicit?” Today’s grammar boot camp session will focus on such ‘almost’ homophones, words that sound quite similar phonetically yet have very different uses. We all get these words easily confused–so pay attention! Make sure your next essay uses the proper forms of the following commonly confused terms.

Continue reading

How to Separate the Good from the Bad on the SAT – Part 3

This is Part 3 of “How to Separate the Good from the Bad”! In the past two weeks, we’ve seen how there are many subtle tricks and tips that can help one eliminate the wrong answers and increase her chances of picking the right answer! This week’s section focuses on how to avoid the wrong answers.


[Continue reading to find out more on how to avoid being tricked into choosing the wrong answers…]

Continue reading

Grammar Boot Camp Part IV: Absolutes, Gerunds, and Infinitives

InfinitivespokLast week I discussed the first three of six important phrases in English grammar: participial, appositive, and prepositional phrases. (Need a refresher? Check out “Phrasing it Up”). Today we’ll be looking at three others: absolutes, gerunds, and infinitives. Having a solid knowledge of these six phrases will benefit you on upcoming college entrance exams (especially the ACT or SAT), which is largely the point of my current blog series, Grammar Boot Camp. Additionally, having on hand a variety of phrases will add spice to the sentence structures of your academic essays–always a plus!

Continue reading

Grammar Boot Camp Part III: Phrasing it Up

keep-calm-and-use-correct-grammar-2-resized-600Apostrophes, clauses, and phrases–oh my! Even though there are actually six types of grammatical phrases, don’t be alarmed. Getting a firm grasp on the differences between appositive, prepositional, gerund, infinitive, participial, and absolute phrases will ensure crisp, original essay writing and higher verbal scores on SAT and ACT exams. That’s right: phrases are all the rage nowadays. For good reason! Today we’ll focus on three of these phrases.

Continue reading

How to Separate the Good from the Bad on the SAT – Part 2

There are so many ways we can go wrong in picking the right answer on a test. The SAT is especially challenging because so many of the answers seem right, but commonsense tells us that there can really only be one right answer. In addition to the neat tricks from last week, here are some additional tips that will help you to ace the SAT!


[Continue reading to find out how to pick the right answer…]

Continue reading

Grammar Boot Camp Part II: Clauses 101

clausesToday we return to the essential building blocks of writing: those groups of words that, when arranged in a certain way, become “phrases,” “clauses,” and “sentences.” Doubtless you have heard these terms in English class, and most likely have seen them in test-prep books for the SAT and ACT. This blog post will give you the skinny–and more–on the basics of these peculiar word groups.

Continue reading

Grammar Boot Camp Part 1: Apostrophes

apostrophes-for-saleThis blog post is the first of a new series called “Grammar Boot Camp.” Don’t look so intimidated! My boot camps are certainly rigorous but by the end of it, you will feel primed for the writing sections on the ACT and SAT, essay assignments in English class, and AP English exams.

Let’s get started with one of the basics, those little buggers that hang out at the ends of words and sentences in a world of their own: apostrophes. Believe it or not, these guys have rules, too.

Continue reading

Writing Academically (Part VIII): Wrapping Things Up

thatsawrapYour conclusion is the easiest aspect of your essay, right? Simply throw a few sentences on the end, summarize some of your main points, and that’s it.

Think again.  While the introduction to an academic essay gives a hefty “first impression” to your reader—and is thus very important—your conclusion gives the “last.” What would you like your reader to take away from your essay? A few wilted sentences that merely take up space in a fifth paragraph? Of course not! Your conclusion should be the place where you remind your reader of your argument up until this point (that’s right: your thesis), summarize the main aspects of this argument, and address that tricky question: what’s the point? Continue reading