An American intern in the Czech Fulbright Commission explains grammar principles to correct issues that are often found in Czech students English essays:
Run on sentences. Shorter sentences are often better. Use a period and break up long sentences.
Transitions. Add transitions in between and within your paragraphs. This website http://www.studygs.net/wrtstr6.htm can give you a good idea of words to use. You want your essay to flow very easily. Transitioning is key!
First Person. First person can be used when writing a personal essays.
Abbreviations. When you mention a noun that you want to abbreviate write out the entire name first and then follow it with the abbreviation in parentheses. Afterwards you can use the abbreviation by itself.
Example: I am from the United States (US). In the US I live in California.
Formality. Be formal in your writing. Do not use colloquial words.
Pronouns. Be careful of using words like that, it, this, and other pronouns at the beginning of a sentence. It is often best to refer back to what you are talking about. Within a paragraph or sentence, do not use pronouns for too long without referring back to the actual noun you are writing about.
Capitalization. Only proper nouns are capitalized. Subjects are not capitalized unless it is in a title such as, "The Department of Civil Engineering." You would not capitalize the subject by itself in a sentence, unless it is a language.
Example: " I study civil engineering and English.
Paragraph Length. There is no specific length for a paragraph, but they can be both too long and too short. Try to keep one main idea in a paragraph. If the topic changes, start a new paragraph; however, make sure you have at least 3-4 sentences to create a paragraph.
Word Economy. Longer is not always better. If there is a shorter, easier way to say something, and still be formal, use it. Do not be overly repetitive to make a point; instead, use powerful words once. Choose your words carefully!
Beginning a Sentence. Do not start a sentence with the words and or but.
Topic Sentence. Every paragraph should have a topic sentence. Every sentence in the paragraph should relate back to that topic. Each paragraph topic needs to relate back to the larger theme. Stick to your central idea at all times!
OABC. OABC stands for Opening, Agenda, Body, Close. Generally, this is a good format to use for the Study and Research Objectives Essay.
Your opening will be an introduction with an agenda for the rest of the paper. Your agenda should clearly states your objectives, like this: "As a graduate student in the US I plan on A)_____ B)________ and C)_________."
The rest of the paper, the body, will start each paragraph with one of the aforementioned objectives and then explain it in more detail. You need to state what you want to do and then follow it with evidence of how you will do that, why you will do it, how it will help you when you return, etc...
Once you have finished your explanations, close with a summarization and conclusion.
Below is a general format for this type of essay.