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My Personal Strengths and Weaknesses Essay

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Writing strengths and weaknesses essay

How to Structure An Essay: Avoiding Six Weaknesses In Papers


Writing a paper is a lot like painting your house: the bulk of the work is in the preparation–scraping, sanding, cleaning, applying primer. If you fail in the prep work, the finished product will be less than excellent. Similarly, it is the quality of prep work-the brainstorming, prewriting, drafting, revising-that makes some papers stand out as excellent.

It is a common mistake for students to want to start editing their papers before they have substantially revised them. Before you start to stress over individual words and punctuation marks, give your paper a critical read. Does your claim hang together in such a way that an educated reader can follow it? Elegant phrasing and multi-syllable words will not make up for weakness in the development of your argument.

Identifying six major weaknesses

  1. A too-broad thesis statement
  2. A poorly formulated thesis
  3. Inadequate or unfocused topic sentences
  4. Writing off-subject
  5. Failing to anticipate objections
  6. An inadequate conclusion

The checklist below can help you discover whether your paper suffers from any of these errors. Ask yourself whether all of the following statements are true of your paper.

  • My subject is limited enough for adequate treatment for this length of paper.
  • My thesis statement is a discussable point and is in the form of a declarative sentence.
  • I have used specific, focused topic sentences to support my thesis statement.
  • All my sentences directly or indirectly support my thesis statement-I have not digressed or written “off the subject.” I have not contradicted my thesis statement.
  • I have anticipated the major objections to my thesis and have tried to address and overcome them.
  • My closing paragraph restates the thesis (if necessary) and draws conclusions based on the points I have already discussed in my paper.

If any of these statements are not true, read ahead to find explanations and suggestions that may help.

1. The too-broad thesis statement

Many papers fail largely because the writer attempts to write on a subject so broad that he simply cannot adequately address it. Narrow down the topic to one that interests you, and for which source information is available, and that you can discuss adequately in the length assigned. The following sentence might have a legitimate place in a paper (as part of an introduction, perhaps), but it would fail as a thesis statement because it is too broad for a typical three- to four-page paper:

In American schools, there are many kinds of acceptable dress codes and classroom behaviors.

The phrase “American schools” includes pre-, elementary, intermediate, and high schools; public and private colleges; technical schools; adult schools; schools with and without uniform requirements; schools in conservative Midwestern towns and those in diverse urban areas; religious schools; progressive schools–too many schools, too many populations of students to discuss all at once.

Many urban-area public schools are weighing the advantages and disadvantages of requiring students to wear uniforms, and quite a few are deciding that uniforms are the way to go for several reasons.

2. The poorly formulated thesis

A thesis should treat a discussable point-that is, a topic that merits discussion because more than one point of view is sane and plausible. While it is possible, for example, to support the following statements, the resulting paper would likely not be very interesting because the points are not discussable:

A dog is a four-legged domestic mammal.

A friend is someone who is always there for you.

Humans need oxygen to live.

Reformulated, these statements can become more discussable and interesting:

Dogs are smelly, dumb, destructive eating machines, and I couldn’t live without mine.

My friend Brad uses humor to encourage me to set high standards for myself.

In the absence of free oxygen, very different life forms might have emerged on earth.

Even a discussable thesis can fail to make its point clear. This is frustrating to the reader, who at the very least is entitled to a clear statement of your claim (unless it is obviously implied–a technique not recommended for beginners!). Compare the following vague theses with the stronger examples given above:

What do most people think about dogs? Are they man’s best friend or worst enemy?

In my estimation, a sense of humor is a valuable thing.

Oxygen is especially vital for animal life forms.

Try the following to help sharpen a vague thesis statement:

  • Avoid questions, which are useful as attention-getting devices, but are difficult to use as a thesis statement. For example, avoid “Why should students be given more freedom to choose elective subjects?” Instead use “Students should be given more freedom to choose elective subjects,” or even “Students should not be given more freedom to choose elective subjects.”
  • Avoid “I think,” “I believe,” “In my opinion,” or “To me.” Such expressions are overly subjective and unnecessary; remember that you are presenting evidence to support your thesis statement, even if you are writing a narrative or descriptive paper. Besides, a simple declarative statement is a much stronger way to say what you think.
  • Contrary to what you might think, absolute statements do not strengthen a thesis. Avoid them unless you are certain you can support them. Few statements (other than known facts–like the nondiscussable points above) can be proven completely to everyone’s satisfaction. If you overstate your case with an absolute statement, and then fail to support it, you lose credibility. Use words like “seems,” “seldom,” “maybe,” “probably,” “possibly,” and “almost.” Avoid “certainly,” “absolutely,” “always,” or “never.”

3. Inadequate or unfocused topic sentences

At George Washington Junior High School, after students had been wearing uniforms only five months, groups of students who formerly occupied separate areas of the lunch yard began sitting closer to each other and talking to each other more. School administrators concluded that the wearing of school uniforms had obscured the socioeconomic differences between students and resulted in more social mixing between the groups.

Compare the above example with the following too-general claim:

Wearing school uniforms is socially good for junior high school students.

In short, fuzziness in topic sentences suggests fuzziness in thinking. If you settle for vagueness in your topic sentences, you will be more likely to write off-topic or jump around from topic to topic. Clarifying your topic sentence–clarifying your thinking–will go a long way toward producing an organized and convincing paper.

4. Writing off-subject

A narrative sometimes seems particularly difficult to contain within the confines of a thesis statement. Consider, for example, a narrative paper about the biggest fish you ever caught. “The biggest fish I ever caught at Bass Lake hit on my spare house key at the very end of a long day of fishing.” A common mistake is to tell the story of the entire fishing trip: when you left home, where you stopped for gas and bait, a description of the scenery, and so on. Remember that what you have promised to tell your reader is about catching the biggest fish ever; every sentence and paragraph should relate to this.

5. Failing to anticipate objections

Especially for an argumentative or persuasive paper, you must acknowledge and attempt to overcome objections to your thesis. For example, consider the following thesis statement: “Courses in Western Civilization should not be required of American college students. If they prefer Asian, African, or Native American Studies, for example, these should be acceptable alternatives to Western Studies.” Here are two plausible objections to the preceding statement:

Western civilization represents the core culture of American students; to be successful in this culture, they must understand it.

The study of Western culture should be required in addition to Asian, African, or other cultures, in order to foster understanding of the modern global community.

Objections like these can be merely acknowledged-“Although some people insist that all students in American should study Western culture. “–or broken down and discussed in detail, point by point. Decide whether your topic–or the objection itself–is strong enough to warrant detailed discussion of opposing viewpoints.

6. An inadequate conclusion

Usually, student writers should write a concluding paragraph that summarizes the topic sentence (in words different from those used earlier) and restates the thesis (again, in different words). The conclusion should include the most important idea from your paper, the one you most want readers to remember. (Some papers may differ; the conclusion to a narrative essay, for example, may not follow this pattern.)

My room is one of the quietest, most beautiful, and most spacious rooms I have seen. Within the confines of my room, I can work, I can think, I can rest. It is, indeed, a place of refuge in a noisy, crowded, and often ugly world.

An effective conclusion “returns” to the material in the introduction–the imagery, metaphor, or analogy found there, for instance. A satisfying conclusion may also contain one last anecdote to illustrate the thesis. Choose a technique that seems appropriate to your subject matter and the tone of your paper.

Although beginners should stick to the techniques outlined above, experienced writers often do one more thing-they draw a conclusion beyond the points already made.

I would not be where I am today if I had not been forced to view my life in an honest manner. Alcohol almost killed me many times, and I am still only one drink away from a life of hell. I have been sober for almost two years, and I have never felt happier or more serene. With God’s grace, I will stay sober today. Tomorrow will take care of itself.

While not introducing new material, this kind of conclusion both summarizes and points out more far-reaching consequences, gives a warning, or offers an alternative suggested by or based on the ideas already put forth.

In addition to the major weaknesses above, minor errors can diminish the apparent strength of your argument and result in a paper that is merely adequate. After correcting major problems, check for some of the errors below:

  • Weak, vague or poorly developed introduction
  • Sentence errors including

  • Unintentional fragmentary sentences
  • Run-on sentences, especially the “comma splice”–using a comma to separate two sentences
  • Short, choppy sentences or lack of sentence variety
  • Poor or nonexistent transitions
  • Awkward sentences due to lack of parallel structure or due to dangling or misplaced modifiers
  • Word errors such as

    • Use of the wrong word or phrase, for example, its or it’s
    • Nonstandard English–”they was,” “he don’t,”-use of double negatives, and so on
    • Trite expressions such as “hit the hay,” “gave me a turn,” “acid test”
    • Monotonous or ineffective repetition
    • Wrong word choice for the style, tone, or content: formal language in an informal paper, for example, or informal language in a formal paper.
  • Verb tense disagreement
  • Wrong use of subjunctive verb forms, such as in conditional statements
  • Subject/verb non-agreement
  • Errors in pronoun reference
  • “Padding”–using words simply to fill space
  • Plagiarizing, that is, failing to cite source material
  • Finally, proofread adequately to correct punctuation, spelling, and typing errors

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    Strengths and Weaknesses Essay Sample

    • Pages: 5
    • Word count: 1,182
    • Rewriting Possibility: 99% (excellent)
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    “What does not kill you makes you stronger.” This is my favorite quotation which always reminds me never to give up. Since my childhood, my parents taught me to work on my character all the time. Each person has his strong and weak sides. It is impossible to eradicate all negative features, but we can make them less noticeable and harmful. The question is whether a person is ready to

    admit his character with all its good and bad aspects. Sometimes people just do not want to accept that some of their traits are not that good. Analyzing personal strengths and weaknesses is immensely hard work. Let me tell you about my experience in improving my character in this essay on strengths and weaknesses of a person. Here you can find out how I manage to turn my negative traits into positive.

    Childhood Forms Character

    Psychological experiments have proved that the human’s character depends on the childhood. Different surrounding factors have an immense impact on children. For example, if parents treat the kid with respect since childhood, the child will be confident. If mother and father argue a lot and do not pay enough attention to their infant, the kid will feel insecure. These small factors form kids’ characters from the very beginning. The same has happened to my spiritual development.

    My parents always taught me that I have to become successful in the future. They talked with me very seriously even when I was a small girl. Such an attitude gave me a certain responsibility to become that person that my parents wanted me to be. It is significant to mention that they would never tell me which profession to choose. They encouraged me to make decisions alone. What they did was building my character of a leader. And it did help me to become responsible, goal-oriented, and confident in the future.

    My Strengths

    In this academic strengths and weaknesses essay, I want to emphasize that sometimes it is even harder to acknowledge strong sides of the character than the weak ones. Not all people even find the sphere where they can show their greatest potentials.

    Fate may give us clues about which aspects of our personality are the best. Since childhood we have hobbies, we show what we like doing and what we want to do. However, some people have to seek their vocation inside their souls for a long time. Fortunately, I am not that kind of a person. I liked organizational activities since school, and I knew that responsibility and leadership qualities are my strong sides. Even writing strengths and weaknesses essay examples can help you understand yourself better.

    Personal Qualities

    I have always considered myself a responsible person. When anyone asks me which trait describes me most of all, responsibility will be that all-descriptive word. This feature correlates with my leadership qualities. When there are any organizational propositions, I take the initiative. I organize concerts, set up non-profit organizations, and help volunteers.

    I always feel that I can take that responsibility, and I coped with everything all the time. And I do not stop on what I had. I attend courses on leadership, read a lot, practice to become even better. This helps improve my strengths day by day.

    Academic Strengths

    As I was always ready to take the initiative at school and the university, I became the president of the local Student Council. This experience gave lots of new skills. I have to combine studying with volunteering. My perfectionist soul inspired me to attend each class and participate in various olympiads. I am proud that I have lots of diplomas and certificates which made me the most studious person at the university. I liked that feeling of being the best but it was a hard work on my personality.

    My Weaknesses

    When people hear the word “weakness,” they usually interrelate it with a negative connotation. However, I would not agree with that statement. There is no ideal human in this world, but there are lots of perfect ones. And I am not talking about the synonymic relations of these two words when you describe your strengths and weaknesses. They are different. “Ideal” denotes someone without any flaws. If God exists, he will be ideal. Perfect equals well-balanced. These are people who admit their negative traits and try to change them into positive very consistently. That is why I respect people who know their weaknesses, and during the lifetime they manage to make use of these features for improving good characteristics. I will tell you how it works in my life.

    Personal Weaknesses

    I am a perfectionist. And you may wonder why I have included this feature as the negative one, but I will explain you. Since school, I did everything I could to get the highest grades. This trait helped me become a straight-A student. However, you can imagine how difficult it was to me when I did not receive an A+ for any task. It made me angry, and I did not want to talk to anyone.

    Although I managed to pull myself together, this feature had not changed since childhood. Now I pay too much attention to failures and mistakes that I make. It does make me stronger, but I am not sure that all those details make me successful. For example, at the university, I wasted my time studying unnecessary subjects which were not significant for my future. I always think about how many other useful courses I could take instead of spending time preparing boring mathematical equations. I do not mean that we have to give up writing homework. Just because I am more into linguistics, doing what is not my vocation was a waste of time.

    Academic Weaknesses

    One person cannot have talents in everything, and Mathematics is my weak side. No matter how hard I tried to practice, I felt that this subject is just not mine. I marvel at people who can solve difficult mathematical riddles at one eye blick. Once I tried to pass the GMAT because I needed the certificate for further studying. I worked a lot and practiced a lot, but I could not get the result higher than 600. It was embarrassing and even irritating. However, then I understood that without my hard work I could not get even 400 points. Sometimes we do not have to be the best in everything. It is pretty enough just to balance talents, and focus on that one which is in our gut.

    One Last Word

    My strength and weaknesses make me who I am. I do not deny the fact that negative traits make us worse. However, they are the main spur for people to develop and broaden the mind. If people were ideal, there would not be a place for improvement. Such life would be boring and calm. We are born to fight for our personalities, build characters, and do anything possible to become perfect by balancing both strengths and weaknesses.

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    Writing Prompts for Rookie Writers

    Helping aspiring/rookie writers to become better writers

    What Are Your Strengths and Weaknesses With Writing?

    Writing isn’t easy. People seem to think that writing is something that’s inborn. I’d hate to tell you this, but writing takes time to develop. Sure some people look like naturals when it comes to writing. However, even the writer who is gifted or talented has strengths and weaknesses. No writer is born perfect. It’s a skill that takes time to develop and perfect. I have strengths and weaknesses myself. Writers always learn from their mistakes and other writers, including myself.

    For starters, I’ll begin with my strengths. One of my strengths with writing is coming up with a story on the fly. Whenever I write I always have a story in mind. To me it doesn’t matter if the story isn’t well-developed I manage to put words down on paper. My belief is it doesn’t matter if you don’t have a story developed, words on the paper will get you started.

    I proofread my work as I’m writing. When I finish a sentence I stop and reread it. If it sounds correct I move on to the next sentence. If the sentence doesn’t sound correct I work on it. The same rule applies to paragraphs. I always make sure I edit a paragraph before I move on to the next. I’ve done this with essays a lot. I would make sure a paragraph conveys important points to the topic of the subject.

    Whenever I write I plan what I’m going to write before jotting words down. This method is very effective when writing essays. Normally it’s called brainstorming, but I usually make an outline. I gather research and write down the important facts and use my own explanations. It’s often difficult when I transition from a source to my own words. I reread the sentences and repeat the process throughout the rest of the essay.

    With writing I’m very detailed and I get straight to the point. I don’t like writing filler or fluff. I want to get my readers and audience absorbed quickly. I wouldn’t want my readers to get bored. I lose confidence when that happens. However I don’t let it keep me down forever. I learn from what i need to improve with my writing. The criticism keeps my writing going whether it’s good or bad.

    As someone who loves to write I have plenty of weaknesses. To start, I occasionally make grammatical errors. I know it’s common with a lot of writers. I, on the other hand, write, type and think too fast to the point where I don’t catch my mistakes. I get too absorbed in my writing and I manage to a lot of mistakes. Along with grammatical errors, run on sentences are my greatest weakness.

    As I aforementioned, the writing and thinking too fast causes these mistakes. My love for writing gets the best of out me. When you’re in the flow of writing you focus more on what you say than stopping for air. Writing is different from speaking. While you’re not using your mouth to convey speech, your hands do all the speaking. Run-on sentences and I aren’t good friends.

    My next two weaknesses are another common weakness for writers. Those weaknesses are not finding the right words to write and easily distracted. There are times when I would stare blankly on a sheet of paper for minutes on end. Even after planning a story I can never seem to write an engrossing opening paragraph. It takes a while because I believe that most of the good opening paragraphs are already taken.I often write similar phrases throughout stories and essays.

    Distractions are never fun when it comes to writing. Nothing hinders your writing more than not concentrating. I’ve mentioned before that life can distract you. However certain situations such as school and work are not the case. The distractions I’m referring here are noise from other people, television, and the internet and outside environment. My writing space is a huge distraction. I’ve recently changed it because I’ve had problems concentrating. My chair, a steel chair to be clear, is a fairly old one.

    It’s been around for seven, maybe eight years? The chair has a soft padding, but it’s still uncomfortable. I’ve put a pillow on it, but that still didn’t help. It takes up half of my writing space and I can never feel content. I sit on my bed now for my work and writing space and rearranged the table I use for my writing space. That’s one weakness I’ve conquered but the other four weaknesses I need improvement on.

    Writing takes time and dedication. Is it easy? No, it’s not. Is it difficult? Writing is only as difficult as you want it to be. I don’t have all the answers when it comes to writing. Writing is a skill that you learn and it’s a journey. Like all things in life there will be hardships. You can’t give up when things get tough. The same belief applies with writing. Not everyone has a gift or an inborn talent for writing. That’s okay, writing is not for everyone.

    It’s up to you whether you want to improve your craft and skill that you love to do. That’s what writing is for some people, self-improvement and self discovery.

    Writing strengths and weaknesses essay

    December 14, 2009

    I believe one of my personal strengths in communication is that I can talk to just about anyone. I enjoy talking with people. In communication, my strength would be that I have the ability to listen as well as respond. I enjoy having conversation with people of different cultures, because it gives me a chance to learn more about their lifestyle.

    I have learned to communicate well with people, because I am an outgoing person. I communicate better one on one. I have a weakness with communication when it comes to having to speak to a large group of people. I become very nervous, and will sometimes forget what I wanted to say.

    My weakness in communication is also when I have to speak in front of the class, or in front of a very large group of people I become nervous, because my weakness of thinking that they are more focused on me than on the information that I will be presenting. I work at that weakness by having the personal strength to try to make the presentation enjoyable so that the focus will not be so much on the speaker but the information be presented to the group.

    I have learned through the years that it is important to stay focused on your strengths and not your weaknesses and to realize that for the most part everybody else is probably just as nervous as I am. I have strength in the fact that I can talk about most subjects very freely. I try to communicate just the point I am trying to make and have the point understandable to those who are listening.

    Communication for me is easy depending on the topic being discussed. I sometimes have a weakness in the fact that I may be too honest with my answer and do not think before answering. I realize that when you are communicating with people, they really do not want the truth because it hurts and is offensive.

    I find that it is much easier for me to communicate, when I have knowledge of the conversation being discussed. I am very weak when it comes to starting a conversation and leading the discussion. I will avoid a conversation as much as possible when I have to present the information to be discussed. In communication, I am also weak in the area that I will choose to listen more that participate.

    I also have a weakness in my non-verbal communication skills. The weakness is that sometimes my body language will give a different answer than what I would have spoken. When I am using non-verbal communication as a point of contact I will point out or agree to something from just listening to the topic being discussed. I focus on my non-verbal communication skills, because I want the non-verbal to be just as understandable as the verbal. My body language must not present a different communication than intended. With non-verbal communication, I try to give more eye contact so that there is no misunderstanding of the communication intended. I find nodding your head helps in non-verbal communication, because a nod can say a lot. In my communication skills, I have learned that if I highlight the strengths. Then the weaknesses would not be so obvious.

    In having communicated with all different types of people, I once was told that if you stop and think for five seconds before you speak, your communication skills would present themselves in a most intelligent manner. Communication comes somewhat easy for me, because I like to talk, but just talking and not communicating would become a weakness.

    I try to always have something to communicate to other people that would be beneficial. Whether communicating verbally or non-verbally your actions will for the most part, represent how you are feeling about a particular subject or discussion. When it is possible always, try to communicate verbally and have the person you are communicating with acknowledge that they understand what you are saying.

    Communication, verbally or non-verbally is a very powerful tool and when you understand your strengths and weaknesses in that area you will be able to communicate much more efficiently with people. When you are communicating, with different types of people you will be able to decide if verbal or non-verbal communication would be the best approach according to their logic and the logic of the situation and surrounding environment.

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