Use Parallelism in Academic Writing

Write a diary

In academic writing, there is a tendency for students to write what comes straight out of their head without pausing to think about grammar. While this is fine when one is writing against the clock, it is good practice to use parallelism, or parallel construction, not only at the whole text level (introduction, supporting arguments, opposing arguments, conclusion), but also at the paragraph level. This is not marked down in TOEFL or IELTS but it is looked at in GMAT.

An example of generally acceptable academic writing without parallelism:

The data displays a sharp increase in activity in the summer of each year. Other than summertime, the activity fluctuates and has no overall trend.

With parallelism:

The data displays a sharp increase in activity in the summer of each year. Other than the summer, the data displays fluctuations which have no overall trend.

Parallelism looks less interesting but it is easier to read and understand, which is very important in academic texts.

I have an ebook about academic writing coming very soon.

Think ‘3’ When Writing Opinion-Based Test Essays


When you write opinion-based essays for TOEFL or IELTS, you need to keep thinking about organising your thoughts in threes. This helps you to structure your writing more effectively. When you have three thoughts to organise each part of your writing it is much easier to stay with your plan.

Plan in Three Parts

    You need:

  1. an introduction;
  2. main points;
  3. a summary and/or conclusion.

And Keep Planning in Three Parts

    Your introduction should include:

  1. what the essay question means or background information;
  2. why this is important or significant;
  3. what your essay will cover.
    Your main points should include:

  • Your opinion, judgement or findings;
  • contrasting views;
  • evidence to back up your view and why the contrasting views may be wrong.
    Your conclusion should include:

  1. reinforcement of your views;
  2. limitations or special cases;
  3. restatement that limitations and/or special cases are minor.

By doing this, you should increase your score and also find it easier to complete the essay within the given time.