Language Accuracy on the essay
The English skills the examiners take account of when marking your essay include the proper usage of grammar, idiom and vocabulary AND ALSO punctuation (e.g. commas, decimal points, apostrophes).
Here are a few very common mistakes:
Grammar, constructions and expressions:
Time expressions: "The U.S. has been fighting terrorism for many years". But: "The U.S. has been fighting terrorism since 2001."
Use "Concerning", ""With regard to" or "regarding".
--> do NOT use "referring to" as most students use it incorrectly!
Names of peoples, countries and places and their adjectives need a capital e.g. an English meal.
1. Do NOT use a comma to introduce a subordinate clause ("Nebesatz"). E.g. "I told him that you were coming."
2. Do NOT use commas to separate relative clauses which define what you are talking about E.g:
The man who came to dinner was my uncle
But DO use them when the relative calsue is not definining, but simply giving some more information, e.g.
His uncle, who I had met previously, came to dinner.
We say "nature", NOT "the nature" and in most cases,"unemployment" and "pollution" (no article)
But we say "the countryside", "the environment", "the economy".
Articles before abbreviations:
NATO (no article, because it forms a word)
the U.N., the U.S., the I.R.A. (where we pronounce the individual letters)
intend and intent
interpret not interprete
there and their
whose and who's
Some more general tips for common mistakes which you should check for can be found here here
A very useful site for common language mistakes is the Penguin Handbook
There are also a number of other addresses with grammar help that you can find on the web. These include The "Top Ten List" of common errors by Karen Gocsik of Dartmouth College (this site also gives further interesting advice on composition).
Remember that there are many books in the Selbslernzentrum of the Language Centre (AB016) that can can help you with writing.