How to prepare better essays? What is an essay?

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How to prepare better essays?

What is an essay?

  • “Essay” comes from the Latin word –
  • “exagium” which means
  • the presentation of a case!!

If you were him, what would you decide if you heard this from a lawyer?

  • “Your honour! Trust me, my client is innocent! He didn’t do it.

What would you expect to hear from a lawyer in the court?

  • no matter he / she is prosecuting or defending a client…..
  • Proof & evidence!!
  • Argument!!

Essay tips

An essay ……

  • carries a formal convention
  • is a set style which
  • it must conform
  • or it is not an essay!

The convention

  • The body – the key section of answering
  • the question
  • Paragraph structure
  • - introduction, definition, argument,
  • evidence & discussion, final point
  • Paragraph as dialogue
  • The conclusion
  • (Tips: use the words from the question in your conclusion to prove that you have answered the whole question.)
  • Bibliography (special note to citing!)

The essay structure

Essay tips

  • making it a continuous piece of writing, instead of dividing it up by headings or strap headlines
  • set length (words) – be reasonable
  • presentation counts – be professional & well cared for
  • be formal – use formal English, do not abbreviate
  • leave space for the marker – be considerate

How to Prepare & write an essay?

Step 1: Prepare to research

  • It takes time
  • Open a research folder
  • Look at the question!
  • - underline every key words in the question
  • - Every word in a question is a gift!
  • Read them all!”
  • - Make sure that you do sth about every word –
  • don’t leave any out!
  • Be creative

Step 2: Systematic & targeted research

  • Carry out the action plan: the 4Ws & more
  • - what: note what you will research
  • - why: reminding yourself the reasons for
  • researching that topic
  • - where: collecting information from
  • different sources
  • - when: set a date and keep to it
  • - check: check when you have done it
  • Step 2: Systematic & targeted
  • research
  • Read with a purpose
  • big notes – all your reading about 1 topic on 1
  • large big sheet of paper (e.g. A1)

Step 3: Review your notes

  • notice the evidence for and against your topic
  • think what your argument will be
  • (based on the given evidence)
  • Index surf – brush up your paragraphs

Step 4: Plan

  • plan your body first
  • one main idea per paragraph
  • consider opposite evidence
  • order your points of argument to build a logical case!

Step 5: Write the first draft

  • Use paragraph questions to prompt your writing:
  • What is it about?
  • What exactly is that?
  • What is your argument?
  • What is the evidence? What does it mean?
  • Therefore…..?
  • What is your final point?
  • Try to build a flow in your writing

Step 6: Leave it!

  • allow a break in your essay writing process
  • to allow the your unconscious mind will seek to close the gaps that you left
  • by offering yourself some distance & objectivity
  • believe it or not: you are working with your brain even during this stage!

Step 7: Review, revise and edit

  • this is the essay writing processes!
  • allow plenty of time for this process
  • go through the whole essay when doing the first and last drafts
  • but in between, just attack 1 paragraph at a time
  • you go back and put in the “best” word
  • check the links between paragraphs and make sure that they still connect with each other

Step 8: Proof read

  • read your essay aloud
  • swap essays with a friend – proof read each other’s work
  • cover the essay with paper and proof read one sentence at a time
  • proof read from back to front
  • proof read from the bottom of the page to the top
  • proof read several times, just checking for one of “your” mistakes at a time
  • proof reading gets better with practice

Step 9: Hand it in

  • submit it on or before the deadline
  • always keep copies of your essay
  • why?

10. Getting work back

  • to review what you have written
  • to utilise the feedback you get from the marker
  • to use that feedback to write a better essay next time
  • to perform a SWOT analysis:
  • Strengths+Weaknesses+Opportunities+Threats

SWOTing your essay

  • Tips:
  • If you can answer an exam question on a topic previously covered in an assignment, put the assignment in your revision folder.
  • If you improve the essay then the exam answer will be even better.
  • Share it! read other’s work, discovering different writing styles & other approaches to answer a question – so as to stretches our thinking!

Essay development activities

  • Group writing
  • Practice brainstorming
  • Write those paragraphs
  • Do not aim for perfection
  • Practice writing
  • Write a lot!

Why write essays?

why write essays?

Work Hard & Good Luck!!


  • Burns, T. & Sinfield, S. (2004). Essential Study Skills. pp. 178-197

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