Here are some essential tips on how to be successful at writing compositions:
1. Give it your full attention. DO NOT do it while having your dinner, watching TV and having a conversation with your partner at the same time.
2. Give it the time it needs to do a good job. DO NOT dash it off in your ten minute coffee break! If you don’t have time to do it before the next class, no problem, do it when you can and hand it in at a later date, but do it properly!
3. You should always make sure to have your reference books and notes with you when doing a composition and USE THEM. If you are using a phrase that requires either a gerund or an infinitive for example, CHECK which one is correct, do not just guess. If your notes or books do not give a full explanation, check on the Internet.
4. Avoid repetition. I repeat: avoid repetition.
5. Use cohesive devices such as linking words and expressions, relative pronouns etc in order to make your compositions flow better.
6. Make sure that what you are writing follows a logical progression.
7. Watch out for things like: subject verb agreement (eg He says NOT he say), correct use of tenses (check if not sure, when do you use past simple, when present perfect, for example? Look at your grammar reference book, or your notes or the INTERNET!!), should you be using a gerund or an infinitive, etc etc
8. Remember to stay focused on the TASK at all times. What have you been asked to do? Are you doing it? Have you included EVERYTHING? Or are you going off on some strange tangent to nowhere?
9. You should also check EVERYTHING mentioned on the correction code on the next page before you hand your work in. If you do all this, you’re compositions will be better and you will improve faster. Remember, you do not improve from my corrections, only from YOUR OWN.
10. Do your compositions when you are fresh and alert and your brain is fully engaged. DO NOT do them at 1.00am after a full days work with your eyes popping out of your head with tiredness!
And here’s how I deal with correction:
1st Correction: when your composition is returned, you will only see the correction codes below. You will then have a chance to self-correct and when you have done that, you can hand in the work a second time.
2nd Correction: I will explain any remaining mistakes and give the correct form.
Writing Composition Correction Codes
SP spelling // HW handwriting
G grammar error // WO word order
A article // Prep preposition
WF word form // V vocabulary error
T wrong tense // S/V subject verb agreement
MW missing word // POS Position
!!! low level error // ? I don’t understand
P punctuation error // NP new paragraph
AWK awkward phrasing // R repetition
WW wrong word // REG register
LW linking word or expression
SC sentence construction is faulty
IL illogical development of the argument
( ) word or phrase not needed (delete it)
NS Non sequitur: a given proposition does NOT logically follow from the previous proposition, hence your use of a given linking word such as ‘therefore’ or ‘thus’ is inappropriate