Write your way to success in exams

Write your way to success in exams

Writing skills are very important for young people who wish to advance in their professional careers. As a teacher in a management school, my observation is that today's youngsters are obviously bright and exposed to a variety of things, thanks to TV and the Internet. They also speak well on a variety of subjects, but when it comes to writing, they are not up to the mark. But the larger issue is that they do not seem to care about this part of their self-development. The first step to improvement is to recognise that there is a problem and I am not sure that they even recognise that they have a problem with their writing skills.

Understand your target audience

A key principle in communication is to understand whom you are talking to and this is perhaps where today's youngsters are found wanting. They write as they speak and while that is not necessarily a bad thing, the problem is that a lot of today's speech is casual, easy and often not grammatically correct. Spellings too seem to reflect the strong SMS culture that seems to pervade today's youth and that is not something that older people appreciate. It is important to remember though that most customers and supervisors belong to a different generation. The obvious fact that business communication has to be different from personal communication is not apparent to a lot of youngsters. Nor do they realise that the lack of writing ability could actually impact their career development.

The value of impressions

How often have we heard the statement — “you are only as good as your first impression”. While this usually refers to physical meetings, I would like to add a slight variation to this. The written communication that you send out to your superiors determines what they think about you. Remember, people are constantly judging and evaluating us.

How would you like to be seen as? You might think that you are being seen as professional and competent but the manner of your writing may actually end up portraying you as casual and flippant.

Self-appraisal

Every improvement process starts with an evaluation of where one is. It is important therefore to do a realistic assessment of one's current writing ability. Go to your teacher or even someone older to you in your family and share some of your writing with that person. Be mature enough to accept what they say and take it in the spirit. Nobody’s is perfect, not even an author. People must constantly strive to improve themselves and try not to get satisfied too easily.

Simplicity is key

A common failing of young people is that they believe that the more complex their style and the more bombastic the words they use, the better it is. Sadly, it is exactly the opposite. The best communication is simple and easy to understand. Young people, especially those who appear for competitive examinations like the CAT, learn tough words in an attempt to improve their vocabulary. While this is laudable, using these newly learnt words in one’s writing, though interesting, is hardly the way to go. The greatest work of art and the greatest writing is simple. Think of the slogans that moved you —

- Blood, sweat and tears
- England expects every man to do his duty
- Miles to go before I sleep
- Garibi Hatao

What is common to all these memorable statements? They are simple. They are easy to understand and people remember them. Remember one thing about your audience, be it your teachers or superiors. They are not going to run to find a dictionary just because you have used a difficult word in your writing.

Follow these simple tips to improve your writing skills and score well in your exams:
nPay attention to sum and substance

- Answer scripts should be grammatically correct.
- Stick to simple words.
- Business writing is about being simple.
- Do a realistic self-assessment of yourself.
- Take the help of a friend, supervisor or teacher.
- Work on your writing. Writing is like maths - the more you do, the better you will be.
- Monitor your progress frequently.
- Read some of the classics.
- Finally, enjoy writing. If it is work, it will be a drudge, but if it is play, you will learn to love it and soon excel in it.

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