A critically important aspect of academic study is the ability to construct a solid, coherent essay. It demonstrates not only what you’ve learned, but your ability to critically assess and form a convincing argument. This selection of essay writing tips and tricks will help you to develop the necessary skills and put pen to paper!
Before we get going, remember that not every strategy will work for everyone; you must be prepared to find the method that works for you personally. With that said, you should always try to practice as much as possible, as essay writing is a skill. Like all skills, you can improve them by practice and review.
The first thing you should focus on is to make sure that you understand what a particular essay requires of you. This means that you need to carefully look at what the essay question is asking. If you are a BTEC student, this means that you need to pay very careful attention to the Learning Outcomes. Learning Outcomes explicitly state what is expected of you and are invaluable in identifying what you need your essay to contain. If the essay title is unclear, you should contact your tutor as they will be able to assist you.
Once you have identified the questions, you need to plan your research. Work out what information you need to answer the question or meet the learning outcome before you begin the research process. This will save you significant time by focusing on specific areas, instead wasting time on irrelevant research. Once you start researching, you will find additional avenues of approach that you haven’t considered.
The obvious starting point for research is the provided course materials, but the further you progress into education the more additional research you will be expected to do. When you research, keep an exhaustive list of every resource you used – it will pay off when it comes to reference!
So, now you’ve done your research and we’re ready to go and start writing!
Actually, no, we’re not. Sorry to break it to you, but we need to plan some more. This time we need to plan the essay itself. Essays should follow a theme and this theme should act as a demonstration of your knowledge and understanding, not a regurgitation of facts.
You need therefore to create and stick to a plan. This plan needs to covers your introduction of the topic, which will introduce the key features of the question and your argument. It also needs to cover the body of your argument, which will discuss the question with supporting arguments. It’s vital that you show that you that you have critically evaluated these arguments and have not taken them at face value. Essentially, you need to explain why this argument is persuasive, not just present it as persuasive. Finally, you need to conclude. A good conclusion will summarise your argument in an interesting, fresh way.
When you write your essay, it’s worth referring back periodically to your plan to make sure that you are following it and not diverging too far away from the key points. You have a word limit, so you can’t afford to meander from theme to theme aimlessly – you need to stick to your plan.
When you’ve written your first draft, don’t be in a rush to hand it in right away. Time allowing, you might find it helpful to read over the essay several times and make revisions. If you’ve planned your time well, then you should have sufficient time to put down your essay for a few days before returning. This will allow you to clear your head and return to it with a fresh outlook.
So, you’ve finalised your essay and you’re ready to hand it in? Take that extra time to give it a final polish, check your spelling, grammar and make sure the references are in order. It will pay off!
Congratulations, you have finished the essay! Go hand it in and take a break.
Like our selection of top essay writing tips? For more study guides, check out our pick of revision techniques.