Advice for Writing Essays

00:00 Jan 01


1. Answer the Question.

This is the first and most important suggestion. Answering the wrong question is a common mistake made by students. Unfortunately, it can be a real disaster for the grade you get in an exam. Make sure you understand what the examiner wants; it is highly advisable to refer back to the question, throughout the answer.

2. Good Introduction.

In an introduction to an  essay , you should offer a short, concise summary of the main points to be raised. If appropriate, you could clarify key concepts. Introductions go wrong when students go into too much detail, and then repeat their arguments in the main body of the text. Generally speaking, it is advisable to start off with a couple of short sentences in your introduction. This is helpful for retaining clarity of thought.

3. Plan.

A plan can help gather your thoughts, and make sure you do not forget to mention key arguments. It is an opportunity to brainstorm what you know about the topic. It is important not to get into too much detail; writing keywords and phrases are the best solution. However, it is worth spending 5% of your alloted time on creating a good framework for your answer.

4. 3 Steps of an argument.

The first step is the basic argument and statement; this part tests your knowledge.

The second step is to explain your statement. Don't forget you need to explain in relation to the question. Also, just because you think the explanation is obvious, it doesn't mean you can avoid putting it down.

The third step is to look at the argument with critical distance. This is an opportunity to discuss why the basic premise may be wrong, or limited. It is an opportunity to show you can think for yourself, rather than just memorise a list of points. This final step, called analysis or evaluation, is the most difficult part, but is required to get the highest mark.

5. Conclusion.

In a conclusion you can weigh up the different arguments, and decide which are the strongest and most relevant. A conclusion should try to add something new, and not just repeat previous points. For example, you can say why an argument is strong or weak; giving justification.

6. Did you answer the Question?

Hopefully you didn't leave it to the end of your answer to realise you answered the wrong question.