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Even Science Majors Have to Write: Tips for Improving Writing

If I had a penny for every time I’ve heard a student insist that he or she will not need to know how to write well in order to study medicine/engineering/astrophysics/pretty much any other science or math field, I’d be rich. These students, many of whom are otherwise totally brilliant, are simply not word lovers. I hate to crush the dreams of science and math students, but here’s some news: Even science folks have to write.

MIT’s Admissions Blog recently offered a post about this very subject. The author, an astronomer, says, “For all you scientists-in-training who hate English class and dream of the day you will never have to write another essay for anyone ever, sorry. It doesn’t go away. You will always need the skill of communicating – and persuading – through writing.”

Anyone hoping to pursue science will likely need to write grant proposals, which require you to be able to succinctly and skillfully persuade people to give you money or other resources. And this insight into the science field applies to nearly any career. Planning a business major? You’ll write progress reports, professional emails, and presentations. Want to be an IT professional? You’ll still need to write professional emails, project proposals, and memos. Is med school for you? As a doctor, you’ll write case reports and articles for medical journals.

While we can’t help you love writing, we can help you to write better, a skill that will help you in high school, college, graduate school, and far beyond. Here are some tips to become a stronger writer:

  • Write a lot. Find something that you’re interested in and write about. Go to WordPress or Blogger or another free blogging platform. Start a blog. Even if no one ever reads it, you’ll have a platform on which to practice your writing. Maybe you love to play Halo. Write about strategies to beat the game. Maybe you love going to the movies. Write movie reviews. Maybe you want to end world hunger. Write about initiatives to fight hunger. It doesn’t matter what you write, so long as you write. Practice makes perfect!
  • Prep for the SAT writing section. Writing is about a lot more than just understanding grammar rules, but mastering the nit-picky rules that appear on the SAT will improve your writing. You’ll catch yourself making some of the same errors you’ve learned to spot on the SAT. Say goodbye to misplaced modifiers, split infinitives, and agreement errors!
  • Read more often. As with the first bit of advice, it doesn’t matter what you read so long as you read. (Although it obviously helps if what you’re reading is well written in the first place.) People who read a lot naturally absorb nuances in writing. Without even realizing it, you’ll improve your writing style and skill just by looking at the examples of other writers.
  • Learn to love the sound of your own voice. Well, not literally; rather, learn to love the look of your own words. A good writer always, always, always proofreads. Train yourself to reread everything you write in order to correct errors and improve word choice, tone, and structure.

Employers in all fields seek job candidates who can communicate effectively via writing. No matter what your future goals are, you’re going to have to be able to write, so you might as well start improving those rusty writing skills now!

 

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