There has been a growing concern by lecturers of the declining standards of writing being displayed by university students in the recent past. The principles of good writing are no longer adhered to and issues such as grammar, punctuation, choice of vocabulary and sentence structure, are generally not of the required standards. The ability to achieve communicative competence in writing is an essential element in language development and academic success among students at all levels of the education ladder. However, many students at the university have exhibited challenges in their academic writing skills and this is evident in the assignments and terms papers that they write. In this study, the researcher sought to look for empirical data to ascertain the particular challenges that the students are facing in their essay writing by evaluating the students‟ essays with the aim of identifying the particular types of errors that the students were making. This study attempts to answer two key research questions: First, what linguistic challenges are students facing in their academic writing assignments in English language? Secondly, what are the possible strategies for addressing these challenges? This study is based on a content analysis that was carried out at a Kenyan university to review the Academic Writing essays of 50 first year students. The study used purposive sampling technique to identify the students. The data revealed that students face two main types of challenges in L2 writing. These include content-related and structure-related challenges. The paper concludes with a discussion on suggestions on how to address these challenges and how to help the students to improve on their writing.
Key Words: Academic Writing Challenges, Content Analysis, undergraduate students, Kenyan students