Essay writing is something you will need to contend with at many points in your education. Learning how to write an essay can also be applied beyond your education in many roles as writing is the most universally required professional skill. If you intend to work in marketing, copywriting, journalism or indeed any type of office work, essay writing skills may be the best craft in your toolbox.
As you’re reading this article, you want to know how to tackle the challenge of writing an essay whether it’s for your university assignments, academic essay or you’re looking for dissertation writing tips. This article aims to help you do just that so read below for our top tips and advice on how to write an essay.
Top Essay Writing Tips:
1. Plan your Essay Structure
Putting the effort into planning your essay can demonstrate that you know what you’re talking about and that you deserve a good grade. Start off by brainstorming some ideas on topics to discuss in your article and researching the concept you will be exploring. Planning your essay before you begin putting pen to paper or finger to keyboard can help you focus and include all relevant information.
Students can use Mind Maps to outline an essay or assignment as a they can represent a visual overview of key discussion points and any other information to be highlighted to the reader in an essay.
See example below how you can use Mind Maps to plan the structure of your essay:
2. Demonstrate your Knowledge
An essay is a way of showing the reader that you know the answer to the question posed. After your introductory paragraph, you should delve into the main content of your academic essay such as the principles of a theory, analysis of literature, the reasons for or against an argument and your opinion – depending on the question type.
As is the case with many students, you may know the answer but find it hard to demonstrate this in a written assignment or exam question. Avoid digressing and ensure that you answer the actual question asked. For bonus points, include examples where you can or relevant quotes from experts. Often, it’s the extra information like this that earns students the grade they receive.
3. Adapt your Writing Style
Rule number one of essay writing; know your audience. If you are writing an academic essay, your writing should be fairly formal and impersonal. University assignments often focus on analysis and synthesis of information whereas writing an essay in high school requires theoretical principles and the reporting of key facts.
As well as adapting your writing style for your audience, there are 4 main types of essays you may need to adapt your writing style to; narrative essays, descriptive essays, expository essays and persuasive essays. Once you understand who your audience is and which type of essay is required, you will know how to present compelling content.
4. Use Online Tools and Apps
A seasoned writer will have tools such as Thesaurus.com and Daily Writing Tips bookmarked for efficiency. There are also a host of free student apps such as The Oxford Dictionary and JumpCut which can help rescue you from writers block.
If you are already signed up to ExamTime, you can use our free online learning tools for essay writing also. As above, our Mind Maps are perfect for planning the structure of your essay. Flashcards are a great way to gather useful grammar tips or words you want to include in the final paper. As you can generate a Note from your Mind Map plan, this will help you save time when finalising your assignment.
5. Avoid the Worst Academic Sin
Many universities take plagiarism so seriously that a student can be asked to leave the institution if found guilty of this major academic sin.
There are some useful plagiarism sites which will check your work to see if it is in danger of being marked as plagiarism. Ensure that you have read your university’s plagiarism policyand referencing guide before including information from an external source. If you are writing your dissertation or thesis, this knowledge is especially significant.
Remember: KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid)! Write your essay as if the reader has no knowledge of the topic you are discussing. Approaching your assignment in this way will encourage you to part with background information which will gain you extra marks. Also, always listen to the guidelines provided by your teacher or examiner, this will be the difference between a good paper and an excellent one!
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There are three steps to mind mapping.
Step 1: Brainstorm
A brainstorm is a thinking process commonly used in study and work situations. It can be done individually or in a group.
How to brainstorm
- Use a piece of paper to write down everything you can think of about a particular topic.
- Write the name of the topic in the centre of the page.
- Do not try to organise the information at all - the purpose is to get it out and onto the page.
- Use key words or phrases to write your ideas.
- Always use the paper horizontally as this way you can fit more information.
Example 1 - Brainstorm of the topic 'History of antibiotics'
Step 2: Organise the information
Organise the information in the brainstorm by identifying the main categories and linking the other information to those as follows:
- circle the main categories
- connect sub-points to main categories
- use colours and visuals where helpful.
Step 3: Complete the mind map
Rewrite the information under headings and sub-points to make the mind map easy to read. In this example the use of graphics and colours helps clarify the mind map.
Here is an example of how you might structure a mind map for an essay topic.