10 Tips You Can Use When You Write an Essay
Calm Down! It is not that difficult!
Students often dread writing essays. It is not necessarily because they have a hard time understanding the course content. Often times, students simply do not know where to begin and/or how to prepare to write a good essay. Here are some of the top ten essay writing tips that might help you the next time you have an assignment to complete. The advice here is given by one of our seasoned writers who has been employed with us for more than 10 years.
1. Understand what is being asked of you
I cannot tell you the importance of understanding the essay question/requirements given to you. You must address the question correctly. Your tutor will look to see if what you are writing stays on point. The content must consistently and intelligently tie to the question/requirements given. If you do not understand the question given to you, then it is likely you will address it incorrectly and receive poor marks. If you do not understand what you are supposed to write about, ask your tutor for clarification.
2. Plan everything
This may be pretty obvious but you should not procrastinate. You need to plan your time.
Sometimes an essay question may seem very easy, or you may already have an idea of what you what to write about. That is good. But you need time to research, look through your lectures and course content and think about what it is you want to argue, whose points you want to include (theories, major authors, etc.), and you also have to consider counterpoints and examples. You cannot put together a well thought out and researched essay without a plan. What do you plan, you ask? Plan the time you will time to research, write and revise. And make sure to give yourself a couple of days extra just in case something springs up last minute.
3. Now Get to Work
Okay, it’s time to get down to business. What to do first? Research, research, research. Where to research, you may ask? There are great sources available to you through your university library. ‘Go to’ sources should include EBSCO, JSTOR, ProQuest, Science Direct and other similar databases that provide reliable scholarly research. Listen to your tutors and stay away from Wikipedia and other questionable internet sources. The internet can be useful, but it contains a vast amount of dubious information. As you research, gather the sources you want to include based on how relevant it is to your essay question. Look at related theories, counterpoints, and, among other things, real-world examples.
4. Draft an Outline
You did your research. That is good. You got all your notes. Now it is time to start planning your first draft. Think about what you want to argue. Think about how you want to structure your essay to make your argument. This is crucial. Without creating a well thought out plan for your work, your argument will not likely be as compelling. Consider any tables or illustrations you may want to include as well.
5. Start to write your first draft.
Start with the introduction. The introduction should be short, not usually more than one paragraph. The goal of the introduction is to briefly explain the topic and key issues and present your thesis statement, i.e. the overall argument of the paper.
Then you will go on to prepare the main body. All paragraphs in the main body should relate/tie into the thesis, by developing it, by providing supporting evidence, etc, and you should be sure that while you are writing you are not simply describing things but engaging in critical analysis and evaluation. This is crucial because tutors already know all the theories and concepts – they taught you this stuff, you know? So they won’t be impressed if you are repeating things they already know. You need to discuss and think and reflect and be critical. Show that you are capable of critical thinking.
As you move on to the conclusion, remember to keep it short and simple. The conclusion should not really be any more than a paragraph, though this depends of course on how many words your essay is. The most important point to remember is not to introduce any new points. It is also important to remember the conclusion is not where you repeat your introduction. It should refer back to the essay question, acknowledge arguments and points and argue for the point/position that you feel is the strongest.
6. Read your Draft
Congratulations! You got your first draft done. But the work is not over. You should read carefully what you wrote. Consider if you want to add/subtract anything. Consider perhaps additional points, arguments or examples as you think about what you wrote and the course/lecture/reading content from the module. Other things you may want to consider. (1) Look at the sequence of the argument, the order of the paragraphs (do they flow?); (2) take into consideration the paragraphs alone (examining the claims made in each to determine whether the ideas are developed fully), (3) read the paper, pay attention to the use of passive voice or awkward sentences. Make updates as necessary.
7. Write your final draft
It is time to move closer to the finish line. As you write your final work, remember to keep your points short and simple. Using fancy language and writing long, complicated sentences will not win points. Make your argument by writing with simplicity and clarify. Continue to proofread, proofread and proofread until you are sure you got everything right.
8. Final Check
After your final draft is done, make sure you got everything in order. Check your references to make sure everything is cited. Make sure if you use any illustrations, graphs, appendices, etc, that it is cited properly and flows with the work. If necessary, place illustrations, graphs, etc, in appendices so as to not disrupt the flow of the argument.
9. Take a Deep Breath, and Hand in Your Work
All the hard work is finished. You can breathe a sigh of relief. Go ahead, hand in your work!
10. Take The Feedback into Serious Consideration
Whatever grade you receive, you should always consider the feedback from your tutors very seriously. They will help you to understand what you can do better the next time around, and let’s face it, no one’s perfect, so no matter how hard you tried, there is always room for improvement. Take the time to read through what your tutor wrote and make sure you apply what you learn from them in your next assignment. You will see your grades improve dramatically by being open to constructive criticism.