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For both parts of the Writing module, the language you use must be academic in style and tone. If you use a casual style of writing, your score will suffer. Here are some tips and tricks you can employ to make your writing consistently academic.

One way of making your writing more academic is to use a tentative rather than assertive language.

Writers of academic prose use certain words and phrases to make their writing more formal and less assertive. In this lesson we will take a look at some of these words and phrases.

Possibly and probably

These adverbs make your writing less assertive. Use them in front of verbs and noun phrases.

  • Global warming is possibly worsened by an increase in the number of vehicles on the roads.
  • Nuclear weapons are probably the biggest threat that humanity faces.

May and might

These modal auxiliary verbs can also be used to make your writing more tentative.

  • Smoking may cause cancer. (Less assertive than ‘Smoking causes cancer.’)
  • Genetic factors might have a role in determining a person’s chances of developing cancer. (Less assertive than ‘Genetic factors have a role …)

Appears to and seems to

Academic writers also make good use of the verb phrases appears to and seems to.

  • Caffeine seems to boost a person’s level of alertness. (Less assertive than ‘Caffeine boosts a person’s level of alertness.’)

Avoid adverbs like always and every. Instead use often and many / much.


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