Last week, SondraC gave you her story and resources to improve your rating. She mentioned not having a starting point to know what to study. This post starts with hallmarks of level 2 articles and covers signs that your writing is at level 3. Removing these issues from your work can raise your rating. Next week, I'll have tips for level 4 writers looking to move to level 5.
The following errors will often put your writing at level 2:
1. Subject-verb agreement
Sentences need a subject and a verb. These two items must agree.
All sentences must start with a capital letter. The personal pronoun “I” must always be capitalized. Capitalization counts for company and product names like eBay, iPod, iPhone, iPad and Wal-Mart.
There are too many spell-check products to have spelling errors in your work. Use a dictionary. While a spell-checker is extremely helpful, do not trust it blindly. “Definitely” and “defiantly” are two completely different words.
“The,” “a” and “an” are important words. Use them appropriately before nouns.
5. Basic punctuation
All statements must end with a period. All questions, even rhetorical ones, must end with a question mark. In rare cases, an exclamation point may be used to end a sentence.
Authors that master those basics get to level 3. These are the types of mistakes that will keep a writer at level 3:
6. Sentence structure
Keep your sentence structure clear. Avoid fragments and run-on sentences. Refrain from starting your sentences with a coordinating conjunction (and, but, so) since these are usually fragments that should be combined with the previous sentence.
7. Incorrect words
Use a dictionary. Check the connotations of the words you are using. Ensure that the word that you're thinking of truly means what you think. The verb should also fit the subject. We've had examples of buildings residing at an address or engine parts desiring oil; inanimate objects can neither "reside" nor "desire." The meaning is clear, but the word choice is off.
They're, their and there all have different meanings. Know which goes where. The same applies to you're/your, peak/peek/pique and it's/its.
There are many comma rules to be aware of. The most important for level 3 authors are how to handle clauses with coordinating conjunctions, or FANBOYS, using commas in if/then clauses, and introductory elements. If you start a sentence with “if,” there is always a comma before the “then” part of the sentence. Every time you have an introductory element like “In 1882,” “However,” or “Yesterday,” you need a comma after that element. Please see other online resources for a full and more technical explanation of these rules.
Be direct in your writing. Avoid "I think," "in my opinion," “in regards to” and “respecting.” Use active voice over passive voice; “The client accepted my articles” is preferable to “My articles were accepted by the client.” Keep your lists consistent, including your verb tenses. Limit extraneous information and extra words.
These tips are not a comprehensive list of what determines your exact rating. Please check the feedback from our editors for items that you can improve. If you have any questions on your rating, e-mail us.