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Foolproof Guide to Essay Writing

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It’s coming to that time of year where all you seem to be doing is writing essays – whether practising for your exams or writing essays for coursework, it’s pretty inevitable you’ll be fighting away that hand ache pretty soon.

As a Combined Honours Sociology and English student, I thought I’d pass on my tried and tested essay writing tips!

Start early!!

Do not leave it till two days before the deadline! We are all guilty of it but this will be your biggest downfall. Try to at least look at the question and consider ways to tackle it as soon as you possibly can to give you a head start – you don’t have to finish it straight away but the longer you have to think about it, the more developed and comprehensive your essay will be.

Plan

It is so daunting to try to get your ideas out onto a totally blank screen, but a plan will help you to structure your answer. Make sure each section is directly relevant to the question.

Key words

Write out the question and highlight all the key words and focus in on these – this will ensure you directly answer all aspects of the question. Keep using these key words throughout the essay to make sure you’re constantly relating your argument back to what you’re being asked.

Reference till you can reference no more

These inform your argument and show you’ve done the reading and know your stuff (and makes sure you don’t plagiarise!). This may only be relevant once you actually get into university, but get ahead of the game and start reading around your subjects in order to build up your wider knowledge and get used to reading academic texts.

Leave writing your introduction and conclusion till last

This is where you outline what you aim to do in the essay and round up what you’ve done in the essay, so you can’t write these until the main body of the essay is done. Make sure they pair up with one another, so you conclude that you have met the aims you introduced.

Find your approach.

Work out what fits your working style best, whether you’re best at writing your essays a little bit at a time or whether you prefer to tackle them all in one go. I find that spending full days working on my essays works for me best, but you may find you keep your concentration better if you do them a couple of hours at a time.

Edit!

This is where you will proof read, check the structure is perfect, ensure your argument makes sense and that every part of the essay is relevant. Be your harshest critic and mark your work as your teacher would. I usually print out and attack my essays with the red pen at least 6 times until I can’t find fault with them before I hand them in. If you’re not so confident with this, get a parent/friend/classmate to do it for you!

PEE!

Remember this from school?! Point, Evidence, Explain. Do this with everything you say in your essay and you’ll be golden.

Essay writing is a skill and takes time to perfect so don’t panic and keep working at it, it’ll be so worth it when those grades come rolling through!

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