HowTo Write A Good Essay
1. Choosing your topic
Very often students are given several essay topics to choose from. It is best that you choose the topic that you are at least a little bit familiar with and you are interested in – researching and writing about subjects that seem to be easy. But you completely do not like them, they will be boring, unfulfilling and in the end more difficult. Try to choose something you like even if you don’t know that much about it yet, you can learn something useful from that assignment.
2. Do your research
Your opinion is very important and the essay has to reflect your critical way of thinking. However, it is important that you research your topic well enough to have a sufficient knowledge to discuss the subject and that you have enough examples and references to support your opinions and assumptions.
Remember to always have a variety of resources. Try to balance the number of online, electronic sources, books and written academic work. It always looks better if you support your opinion with a quote of someone who is an important and respected figure in the field you are researching rather than a person who just happened to post something as a comment on someone’s blog. Every time you make a statement try to support it with a good example or a quote.
Avoid sentences like “Everybody thinks…, most people…, nobody knows…”. These phrases are too general, it is better to replace them with some statistics or examples.
Never use Wikipedia as a source! First of all, anyone can edit it so you can never be sure if the information you get from Wikipedia is right and correct. Secondly, as said before, an essay at an academic level needs better arguments than the ones you can find in a questionable source like Wikipedia.
3. Do your references and bibliography right
Choose one referencing system (unless it is clearly stated what system you have to follow). You can find many guides about referencing systems online, on universities’ websites and in libraries. Remember to always check if you are doing it right – there are different rules to reference a quote, paraphrase, online sources, journals etc. That is why it is crucial that you make sure all your references are made according to the guidelines.
Always use references if you use someone else’s work – when you quote, paraphrase, use statistics or use someone’s ideas. If you don’t know if you should use references the rule says: “When in doubt always reference.”
Remember that you do not always have to quote if you would like to mention someone else’s work. You can paraphrase and use authors name in the text: “According to… As Jim Thomas mentioned… Sheldrake asserts…”.
4. Use the academic language
Write your essay in a way that will allow your reader to easily understand it, but do not make it too simple. Sentences have to follow each other in a logical order. You can use longer sentences, interesting comparisons, sophisticated words. Your style has to be clear and your reasoning easy to follow, but it does not have to be straightforward and plain. Avoid using only simple, short sentences – you are not writing a criminal novel so you don’t need to build up the suspense. Never use colloquial sentences and slang, people who will read and mark your essay are well-educated and intelligent, and will appreciate a good essay on a high level, so don’t be afraid to show your intellect and excellent writing skills.
5. Structure your work
The structure of your essay will help your readers follow your arguments. Divide each part of your essay.
It does not have to be long. In this part of your essay briefly introduce the topic, say what your essay is about, what you are going to talk about and what is the goal of your essay.
- Main part
In this part you present your arguments and examples. Since this is the longest part of the essay you can divide it into paragraphs e.g each paragraph for each argument or one paragraph for every issue you want to analyse regarding your topic.
In this part you summarise your arguments and main themes, state your final conclusion and answer the topic question. In your last sentences try to link this part to the title of your essay.
6. Always follow the guidelines
Before writing your essay make sure that you exactly know what you have to do. If your tutor gave you guidelines how to write your essay follow them, if you have a list of things that you need to include in your essay, make sure you include all of them. Usually tutors allow to write 10% more or 10% less words than stated in the essay brief, never exceed this number.
7. Plan your work well
Writing an essay is a time consuming task. Make sure you have enough time to do you research, reading and writing. Always try to add one or two extra days to the time you estimated you are going to need to write your essay.
8. Check your work
Before handing in your essay read it a few times to find and correct grammar or spelling mistakes. After you do that, read the whole essay one more time, without stopping to correct things to see how it sounds all together, to see if the entire text make sense and if the arguments follow each other logically.