Well, the academic year has already started in earnest and, talking to a number of young and mature students this week who have already been sent their first assessment, having not studied for a while (some for as long as two decades!) many of these students were already nervously asking me about how they could best prepare for completing their work. Most of these students were concerned about whether they would be able to make up the deficit they perceived in their understanding so they would then felt much less daunted.
As a result, this immediately set me off thinking a great deal about what makes really good essay technique on the basis of my experience both as a student and as a teacher now for knowing how to write an essay that is suitably academic as part of a coursework assessment.
The first thing I would say is that developing effective essay technique starts the moment you begin your studies at college or university: you MUST go to all of your lectures and workshop (lessons) because a lot of what you need to know for your assessment will actually be taught to you. Moreover, it is also imperative for you to do the reading and the work that your lecturers (teachers) require you to do as part of your homework outside of class in your own time because this will supplement what you are learning in class and will help to get you in the ‘academic mindset’.
It is also important to do effective internet research using both search engines like Google and more subject-specific subscription based websites like Westlaw and structured library research wherever necessary to further your studies.
However, that does not really tell us much about the essay writing process itself…
The first thing to do is to look to plan your work according to the question you have set and the word count that you have been given and to work on the following basis – you should look at your question and pick out what you believe are the key aspects related to the subject; then you should work on the basis that the shorter the word count the more specific you will have to be and, conversely, the longer the word count the more you will be able to discuss broader issues and show a depth of research looking into others views and theories on the subject that you are discussing with greater analysis.
With this in mind, generally, it is usually a good idea to write paragraphs that are no less than seven lines or three complete sentences and no more than 250 words in length to avoid complaints for having a poor structure to your work.
Moreover, in the introduction, I would recommend you provide a brief outline of the plan that you have developed for your work so your assessor knows in what direction your work will go and can look out for the key points that you have recognised and the resources that you have used (makers sure that you know your referencing – where necessary look up the use of footnotes and Harvard referencing and how to reference). Then, following on from this, you should go through each of the ideas that you have put forward in the introduction as part of your plan in order as they will appear discussing them in greater detail as separate issues recognising the important points and then also ‘interlinking’ them so that there is a good flow both in your individual paragraphs AND from one to another. This is important because, ostensibly, your paragraphs should be able to stand up to scrutiny on their own and collectively.
It is also important to think about the language, grammar and sentence construction you use. This is because you not only need to be analytical and critical in what you are writing, but also specific and concise – there is not a need for flowery language because you are not writing a story; there is no need for long narrative or description, instead you should be critical and analytical on the basis of your research so there is a need to refer to other people’s work in journal articles and textbooks. Your development in this respect will be heavily influenced by what you read and the way in which you are taught your subject so make sure that you pay attention and take a lot of notes.
Finally, it is also necessary to consider the way in which you will conclude your work.
This is because there is usually a need to summarise and discuss the key points from the rest of your essay’s discussion in looking to answer the question that you have been set by your assessors in the subject that you are undertaking studies in. REMEMBER, however, that your assessor will have a lot of papers to mark that are all pretty similar and, whilst they will read your work, they will not spend that much time on it or take it in in the same way that you would if, say, you were reading a book. Moreover, you also need to appreciate that you may NOT always be required to write the usual form of essay conclusion: you may just have to make recommendations on the basis of what you have written in the rest of your work on how matters can be improved.
I hope that this brief overview of essay technique and general essay writing proves useful to you as a starting point for thinking about writing your work with the ideas that have been put forward – if you would like more in-depth support then you can find it in the form of my e-journal ‘The Secret Guide To Academic Writing & Study’ that I am currently distributing to you at a remarkably inexpensive one-off price through my website at www.academicfx.co.uk [http://www.academicfx.co.uk].
You may also contact me for further details and assistance via email@example.com.
About the Author
Hi my name is Andrew and, as well as working for myself, I have freelanced for many companies seeking to form relationships in the European Union and Asia as legal advisor on the differences between legal systems with a view to furthering their economic potential. However, my focus at this time is on helping students at high school, college and university all over the world to achieve their academic potential and future career aspirations with the work I do on a daily basis and through ‘The Secret Guide to Academic Writing & Study’ that is avaliable through the secure AcademicFx website – [http://www.academicfx.co.uk] I have also written a young adult / older children’s novel called ‘A Secret Darkness’, but my academic text ‘The Secret Guide To Academic Writing & Study’ is my focus in view of the work I put into it. I surveyed students and teachers at the high school, college and university levels with a view to producing a truly informative text that is available to help students at all levels achieve better results in their assessments and from their daily participation in their education to help them succeeed through one affordable resource.
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