Top 5 essay tips for students

These are some tips that may be able to help you through your next essay.

  1. What type of essay are you writing? There are several different types of essays all of which focus on different skills.
    • Expository. You need to explain an idea or theme to a given audience. The focus is your own response to an event, a debate or anything that you have experienced (art work or read)
    • Persuasive. The aim of this type of writing is to present your opinion and get your reader to see things from your point of view.
    • Analytical. In this type of composition you need to interpret and evaluate an event, book, film, play or event.
    • Argumentative. This type of article is not just about your opinion it is about putting forward appropriate evidence to illustrate that your belief is more appropriate (scientific, economical, efficient or logical) than others.
  2. Instructions
    • Read the instructions carefully and then read them again.
    • Make sure that you know when the work needs to submitted to your tutor and make a note of the date.
    • If you are not sure of something then make sure that you ask your tutor. There is nothing worse than thinking that you have got the instructions correct, only to spend a lot of valuable time producing a really good piece of work only to find that it does not match the remit that your tutor gave.
    • If you think that you are going to have a problem tell your tutor as soon as you can, as they will probably be able to give you some additional support or direction.
  3. Examples
    • If you want to write a really good piece of work, then you need to see some examples so you know what outstanding writing looks like and at the other end of the scale know what pit falls to avoid.
    • Ask your tutor for some examples. You can also ask in the school of college library if they have some. Check also with your Student Learning Support Department. Be aware that this department is usually very busy so if you need additional advice on writing you will need to ask for an appointment with a Learning Support Tutor well in advance.
    • Have a look online. There are several websites that offer examples as well as writing services. Many of the sites offer free examples. Ideally you are looking for examples of a good piece of work; an outstanding piece of work and a poor piece of work. Make sure that you access ones that are of the same type (Persuasion, Analytical etc.) that you have been asked to write.
    • Look in particular at the way that the work flows. Does it follow a logical progression of ideas? Are the paragraphs constructed correctly? Do they start with an opening/introductory sentence? Does the next 3-4 sentences contain all the information needed to make the point in question? Does the last sentence sum up the points raised and draw a conclusion? Does the last paragraph draw all the issues together?
  4. Topics
    • You may already have your topic decided for you through the remit your tutor has provided.
    • If you have to make choices then you may have already got some inspiration through searching for examples.
    • If you need further inspiration then go back online and look for lists of topic ideas. You may find that by just looking at the lists may give you inspiration.
    • Once you have chosen you topic, make sure that you have sufficient evidence to sustain your work.
  5. Extras
    • Plan your time realistically. Some people can get away with leaving
    • everything to the last minute, but most of us cannot get away with this.
    • Be the tutor and check your work critically. Be prepared to make changes.
    • If possible get someone else to read through your work and offer an honest opinion.
    • Give your work a final read through before submitting it.

    Good Luck!

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