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What are the best tips for essay writing?

(50 Posts)
Osarta Thu 27-Sep-18 21:54:43

How can I get better at writing essays?

aggie Thu 27-Sep-18 21:57:35

read , read and read again , then write , write and write . In other words hard work and practice

notanan2 Thu 27-Sep-18 22:04:17


Look @ the assessment criteria
Read the brief
Repeat x 10
Check what you've written against the assessment criteria & brief.

They cannot give you marks for things that there are no marks allocated for sooooo follow.the.brief aaaaand make sure you have covered the assessment criteria.

You would be amazed how many people write tonnes of words that can not gain them marks.

phoenix Thu 27-Sep-18 22:09:52

As both aggie & notanan2 have said, reading the brief is vital!

Also, although it might seem like stating the obvious, have a beginning, a middle and an end.

(It can be surprising how many essays just sort of peter out, without having a conclusion)

notanan2 Thu 27-Sep-18 22:20:30

Im going to assume you are a mature student (because of the site)

When mature students do worse than students of school leaving age despite putting in a lot more work, it is often because mature students don't believe the brief.

Yes that really is all they are asking. No its not a trick question. No you won't get marks for being different.

The reason that 18yr old bashed out an essay the morning it was due and got a higher grade is because they just did what the brief asked. Nothing different.

notanan2 Thu 27-Sep-18 22:23:53

There are extra marks for going deeper into the brief, but not usually any for tangents.

Allegretto Thu 27-Sep-18 22:24:52

Answer the question and don’t digress. Consider the title and underline key words within it. Make a plan. Keep your writing factual. The marker will usually have a list of facts which are worthy of marks. You want to get a tick for every point you include. There will also be a very small allocation of marks for the quality of written communication, so aim for a well structured essay.

TwiceAsNice Thu 27-Sep-18 22:26:17

I agree with what's been said already. When you are sure that you have understood what the essays title is asking make sure you have an introduction which should set out what the planning of your essay should be. The middle is the argument of explaining / analysing / comparing/ contrasting/criticising etc, whatever it's asked you to do. The conclusion is just that, a brief "proof" of what you have been explaining. Finish off with Harvard referencing. Any quote or theory of someone else should be acknowledged and referenced fully at the end or you will be accused of plagiarising. You should also write it to the expected word count plus or minus 10%. Good luck

annodomini Thu 27-Sep-18 23:02:29

What level and what subject are we considering? Don't you have a tutor you can consult?
Planning is vital. Make a plan and stick to it. Be relevant - don't go off at a tangent.

Elegran Thu 27-Sep-18 23:13:51

As with any exam, first read the question. Then read it again, taking note of what you are expected to do. Form a list of one-or-two word reminders of what you want to include, grouped by relevance.

There are three main parts to an essay, or to a talk - tell them what you are going to say, say it, and tell them what you have said. The first and last parts should be short sketches and recaps of the centre and longest, most important part.

Work all of your points in to make a coherent account or argument and check it over to make sure you haven't left anything out.

Don't go too far off the theme, something relevant that illustrates your point is fine, but waffling on will bore the pants off the examiner and not get you any brownie points.

Break it up into sentences and paragraphs. A solid block of text is very tiring to read. The carriage return only takes one touch.

Allow time to read it through as though you are seeing it for the first time. Does it make sense? Is it easy to follow? Be prepared to move a sentence or a section from one place to another. I moved the paragraphs in this post around to a better sequence before sending it.

Elegran Thu 27-Sep-18 23:17:37

PS. Check that you haven't over-used one word. Rereading my previous post, I see that I used the word "points" three times in two consecutive sentences. consult a thesaurus if you can't think of an alternative word term.

sandrajames Fri 28-Sep-18 07:17:30

Just write all your thoughts down this is the best thing you can do for writing an essay.

Jane10 Fri 28-Sep-18 07:19:32

I agree with all of the above. Once you've clearly understood what you have to gather relevant information and write about, the essay plan is vital. With a clear plan to follow its much easier. Take time to do this. It's well worth it and prevents waffling.
I love writing essays! No more for me to do unfortunately.

Elegran Fri 28-Sep-18 08:23:08

sandrajames That is OK if you know that you will think your thoughts in the right answer and that they will form a logical prgression towards your conclusion. Most of us have afterthoughts halfway through that belong at the start, or forget some points while we are writing down the first ones that came into our heads.

Scribbling reminders on a scrap of paper and shuffling them into a sequence makes for something that is easy to read and understand, and that is the point of communication - to get it over to the reader.

MawBroon Fri 28-Sep-18 09:09:12

just write all your thoughts down this is the best thing you can do for writing an essay

I could not agree less!
Essays need structure - a strong opening paragraph, an argument which progresses clearly , argument, counter argument leading to a strong final section.
You need to be aware of your word count (more is all too often “less”) too. Some examiners will scale back the possible maximum mark if you go over the number of words allowed.
Careful reading around your subject,then organising your notes on that research into the relevant sections of your essay, a clear essay plan to keep you on track and then you can think of starting writing.
Oh and did I say make sure your essay actually answers the question/fits the title or the brief?

MargaretX Fri 28-Sep-18 09:28:37

A quote from somebody I once read.

Tellum what you're going to write about
Tellum write it,
Tellum what you have written

MargaretX Fri 28-Sep-18 09:34:41

I'm afraid the reader is a worn out person fed up with reading a lot of essays who loves to have before her/him written facts, placed carefully and in perfect English

Go easy on the words very and nice and and avoid any form of slang.

HildaW Fri 28-Sep-18 09:46:57

Its a bit obvious but just make sure you answer your opening statement/question. If the final paragraph follows on from the introduction even if you don't read what comes in between then you have written a sound essay.

wildswan16 Fri 28-Sep-18 10:06:00

Sorry if I digress, but I was amazed how much easier it was to write an essay nowadays. My previous essay writing was the pen and paper variety.

Now, you type it all in, copy and paste to move it around, delete bits, add bits, put bits in red or blue to remind yourself to check them again, make new paragraphs, etc etc. Spellcheck !! Sooooo much easier.

No sore or inky fingers, no forests of paper in the waste basket.

But I agree with the advice above - structure, to the point and well referenced.

henetha Fri 28-Sep-18 10:09:53

I love writing essays. Can I do it for you, please?
(you'd fail then, of course!)

Elegran Fri 28-Sep-18 12:46:25

some gransnet posts obviously follow the just write down your thoughts path one dense paragraph consisting of twenty lines of thoughts written down as they came into someone's head in no particular order and meandering all over the place no punctuation or division into sentences or possibly with an occasional .... here and there or even frequent ....s in random places where the poster hopped from one thought to another and no capitals unless they are scattered Randomly like pepper from a Pepperpot for no reason at all Except that the posters finger happened to click on the shift button while they were typing Something Else is very hard to read and make sense of and you find Yourself out of breath as you read it even when you are old enough not to be reading out loud as you uded to do when you were at School and just learning how to read people dont notice when they are reading a book that a professional author or even one who wants to get their meaning over to their readers without putting them through a reading assault course has arranged what they are saying into smaller chunks that can be understood a bit at a time and not as one long boring incomprehensible chunk.

One long boring incomprehensible chunk like this post. Did you bother reading on until the bitter end? Did you enjoy the experience or were you cursing me before you were halfway dowm?

BBbevan Fri 28-Sep-18 12:50:10

When I did OU , my tutor told me exactly whatMargaretX has said, up thread. Works every time

Quri Tue 16-Oct-18 09:36:09

Message deleted by Gransnet. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

henetha Tue 16-Oct-18 11:05:33

I remember being told that the opening paragraph is very important and should catch the reader's attention immediately.
Don't write long paragraphs, - try to have some semblance of order about what you are trying to convey.
Be very careful that you answer the question and do not go off course. Read the question thoroughly before putting pen to paper... {or fingers to keyboard these days!}
And finally, a closing paragraph which sums everything up neatly and brings a proper conclusion to the essay.
Good luck. I'm so envious!

Fennel Tue 16-Oct-18 11:59:34

When I first went to university I had a very 'flowery' style of writing an essay.
Luckily my tutor gave me good advice.
As above, understand the question first.
Read what others have to say on the subject.
Then think.
Then jot down points for and against.
Then set these out in a readable way.
Then form your conclusion and write that.