Some students are particularly intimidated by essay writing, especially when the task involves, for instance, more than a thousand words. The task is however quite manageable if one is equipped with some essential tips on handling the essay. Below are some of the critical elements that you should observe if you desire excellent results in your essay writing process:
- Reading the Assignment
Reading and writing are inseparable in effective communication. More often than not, essays are required to manifest that you have absorbed the course material and that you can do some thinking on your own. In fact, most essays feature questions that have not been addressed at length during lectures. Luckily for you, if you put adequate effort into getting to comprehend the material, then critical thinking is within your grasp. Always observe the following points in responding to essay questions:
- Avoiding straying while reading. Concentration is paramount here if you desire to respond to the question in the best manner possible. Ensure that your total attention is riveted to the question and that you do not wind up thinking about other things such as the movie you watched last night. You can prevent this by making periodical stops while evaluating the question, and then reread the assignment once more. In manner, you will be able to understand the gist and crux of the assignment.
- Contextualize the assignment in relation to preceding and forthcoming assignments. Consider the purpose of the task by observing and understanding terms like “analyze,” “discuss” and “critique” among others. This should help establish what you are specifically setting out to accomplish.
- Topic Development
Writing academic essays requires a student to make convincing or genuine arguments based on either primary or secondary sources or both. You might find yourself experiencing what is called “writer’s block” when you intend to start writing that essay, especially in the draft form. Don’t panic, this is a common experience even in highly experienced writers. Following the steps outlined here, you should be able to overcome this problem quiet rapidly.
Establishing a topic sentence before you embark on writing is important to the outcome of your essay. Also, topic sentence should be less ambiguous than the subject. For instance, instead of writing about a huge abstraction like “crime and punishment,” you can write about the “nature of the US justice system in relation to hate crimes.” Topic sentence has to narrow down, be specific, and sufficiently focused on the argument that you intend to present.
The following steps should help you establish a specific topic aligned with your subject:
- Read through your secondary and primary sources and note down the information that directly relates to the assignment.
- Group ideas and passages into categories as they fit into your argument. Be careful to eliminate any ideas that are irrelevant to the assignment.
- Annotate the passages that directly apply to the assignment. Include your ideas in the annotations including notes, ideas, and opinions.
Outlining is an essential step in developing the structure of your essay. A detailed outline before one begins writing an essay ensures that ideas are presented clearly and in a logical manner. A good outline breaks down the topic into various categories of sub-topics in line with both the topic sentence and materials utilized in the study. A good outline also reduces the chances of having to rearrange your content once the essay is complete, saves time, and eases the revision process.
- Structure of the Essay
Essays differ in their purpose and content, and the structure is usually not arbitrarily. However, there are certain guidelines for writing particular forms of essays such as comparative studies. Make sure you are well versed with the guidelines of your assignment before you embark on research and writing. The focus or purpose of an essay often predicts the structure you should use. Also, your essay should present the information that you deem the readers should know in a particular order. Your essay can, therefore, have a unique structure in alignment to your claim.
An example of an approach you can employ to structure an essay can incorporate:
- Introducing an argument
- Data analysis
- Arguments and counterarguments
Always maintain a logical flow of information in your essay.
- Topic Sentences and Conclusion
Topic sentences form the basis of the information contained in every paragraph by revealing the main points presented therein. They indicate the relationship of every paragraph to the main topic sentence and essay thesis. Often open your paragraph with a sentence that informs the readers what to expect in that particular paragraph, although this is not mandatory.
The conclusion of your essay is another that part that is very indicative concerning your ability to present information in the desired manner. This part affords you the opportunity to sway your readers to the point of view you hold. Also, the conclusion allows you to impress yourself upon the readers as a thinker and writer.
With this understanding in mind, do not only summarize your argument or use terms such as in conclusion, although they are sometimes useful. Link your introduction with whatever you have presented, and then sum up by making clear your standpoint. You might even choose to close your essay without actually closing off the argument, by for instance quoting a secondary source expounding on your topic.