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Study guide For a printer-friendly Fratures version of this guide, click here This Study Guide addresses the topic of essay writing. The essay is used essah a form of assessment in many academic disciplines, and is used in both coursework and exams. It is the most common focus for study consultations among students using Learning Development. These lists suggest questions to ask of your writing when you are reviewing it. To produce a high quality featires you need to demonstrate your ability: The need to use such a wide range of academic skills is probably the main reason why the essay format is so popular with tutors as an assignment.
The word limit adds to the challenge by requiring that all of these skills be demonstrated within a relatively small number of words. Producing incisive and clear written work within a word limit is an important skill in itself, which will be useful in many aspects of life beyond university. Feedback Good, constructively critical feedback can give you excellent guidance on how to improve your essay writing. It is oof attending to all of the suggestions and comments you receive, and trying to act on them.
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Common criticism given to students is that their essay: These criticisms highlight the three basic elements of good essay writing: These elements will be used to give a broad overall structure to this Study Guide. Attending closely to the title The most important starting point is to listen carefully to what the essay title is telling you.
You need to read every single word of it, and to squeeze out as much guidance you can from the title. Then you need to plan how you will respond to every single element of the title. The guidance given to you by the title is freely available, and is your best clue to what is required in your essay. As a tutor has said Creme and Lea, p One, answer the question. Two, featufes the question. Three, answer the question. Essay terms explainedand Questions to ask about interpreting essay titles may be useful. It can be a way of making a lot of progress quite quickly.
It can be stressful and very difficult trying to work out solely in your mind how to tackle an essay title; asking yourself questions such as: What structure should I use? What are my main points? What reading do I need to do? Have I got enough evidence? It can be much less stressful to throw all your thoughts down on paper, before you start trying to find answers to these questions. In these early stages of your thinking you may not be sure which of your ideas you want to follow up and which you will be discarding.
Instead, you can catch all of your ideas, in no particular order, on a sheet or two of A4. Once they are down there it will be easier for you to start to review them critically and to see where you need to focus your reading and note taking. Breaking it down then building it up Essentially, this is what you are doing within the essay process: Throughout this process, the essay title is the single immovable feature.
You begin there; you end there; and everything in between teatures to be placed in relation to that title. Efficient reading All three of the processes described above will inform your decisions about what you need to read for a particular essay. If left unplanned, the reading stage can swallow up huge amounts of time.
Fortunately, there is scope for developing efficiency in several ways: While a certain level of efficiency is desirable, it is also important to remain flexible enough to identify relevant and interesting ideas that you had not anticipated.
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Writing as thinking You can use the writing process to help you think through, clarify and develop your early ideas about how you might respond to the title that has been set: As with teaching, it is often not until you try to communicate an argument and its evidence that you find where the gaps are in your knowledge or argument. Wriring is an active and constructive process; it is not merely a neutral recording essaay your thoughts.
How to Write an Opinion Essay An essay is a composition that defends a position or opinion, also called a thesis, that has been put forth by the author. Students must add some background information to give a smart description about the essay topic. However, even in those essays that appear to be highly creative, unscientific, or personal, an argument of some kind is being made. The outline will help you walk through the darkness from one point to another. Editing Finally, you need to take a break from your essay so that you can return to it with fresh eyes for the final editing. You may wish to create a more flexible or fluid structure. Questions to ask of your essay content may be useful.
It is therefore useful to go into the writing process expecting to make revisions. The first words you write do not have to be part of the final version.
There are several generic structures that can help you start to think about your essay structure e. Then you need to plan how you will respond to every single element of the title. So make sure to keep it tidy, clean, and this is relevant even if you are sending it to your professor by e-mail. Short to middle length sentences are almost always preferable to longer ones. If you have written on a particular text, novel or poem, you must fully state the title and author. In the words of a tutor: You should have no more than one or two quotes or paraphrased statements in support of your position, not in place of your own thinking.
Editing your writing as you develop your ideas is a positive not a negative process: Establishing a relevant structure to support your argument All essays need structure. The structure may be strong and clear, or it may be unobtrusive and minimal but, in a good essay, it will be there. Again this may be strong and obvious, or it may be almost invisible, but it needs to be there.
However, even in those essays that appear to be highly creative, unscientific, or personal, an argument of some kind is being made. It is the argument, and how you decide to present and back up your argument, that will influence your decision on how to structure your essay. The essay structure is not an end in itself, but a means to an end: By creating a relevant structure, you make it much easier for yourself to present an effective argument.
There are several generic structures that can help you start to think about your essay structure e. These can be useful starting points, but you will probably decide to work with a more complicated structure e. In addition to these macro-structures you will probably need to establish a micro-structure relating to the particular elements you need to focus on e.
Fluid structures You may feel that, for your particular essay, structures like these feel too rigid. You may wish to create a more flexible or fluid structure. An analogy could be that of symphony writing. This set yo a pattern for the numbers of movements within the symphony, and for the general structure of writing within each movement. The continued popularity of their work today shows that they clearly managed to achieve plenty of interest and variety within that basic structure.
Later composers moved away from strict symphonic form. Some retained a loose link to it while others abandoned it completely, in favour of more fluid eessay. It would be rare, however, to find a symphony that was without structure or pattern of any kind; it would probably not be satisfactory either to play or to listen to. Similarly, a structure of some kind is probably essential for every essay, however revolutionary.
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Your decisions on structure will be based on a combination of: Esday iterative, off necessarily a linear process The process of essay planning and writing does not need to be a linear process, where each stage is done only once. It is often an iterative process i. A possible iterative process is: Barass p80 makes the simple but valid statement, features of an essay writing you They will be ceatures and marking many, many student essays. If you make your argument hard to follow, so that they need to re-read a paragraph or more to try to make sense of what you have written, you will cause irritation, and make their job slower.
Realistically, it is possible that they may even decide not to make that effort. Your tutors will not necessarily be looking for the perfect, revolutionary, unique, special essay; they would be very happy to read a reasonably well-planned, well-argued and well-written essay. They will not want to pull your essay to pieces.
They would much rather enjoy reading it, and be satisfied by the thread of your argument. In the words of a tutor: It can engage your readers, and can give them confidence that you have thought carefully about the title, and about how you are going to address it. A xn generic structure is to: It may be possible to use only one paragraph for your introduction, but it may fall more easily into two or more. You will need to adapt and extend this basic structure to fit with your own discipline and the precise task set.
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Here is an example of an introduction for an essay entitled: Examine and compare the nature and development of the tragic figures of Macbeth and Dr Faustus in their respective plays. Begin with a general point Dr Faustus and Macbeth are both plays that show their respective playwrights at the pinnacle of their careers. The heart of the essay The middle part of the essay must fulfil the promises made in your introduction, and must support your final conclusions.
Failure to meet either or both of these requirements will irritate your reader, and will demonstrate a lack of self-critique and of editing. The central part of your essay is where the structure needs to do its work, however explicit or wriiting your chosen structure may be. The essag you choose needs to be one that will be most helpful to you in addressing the essay title.
The content of this central part will probably contain: It will be characterised by: Questions to ask of your essay content may be useful. Conclusion A powerful conclusion is a valuable tool. The aim is to leave your ylu feeling that you have done a good job.
- Taking time to plan the paper and do some research for it before the actual writing process can basically save your paper from being written while the author mentally screams that he needs help.
- First, an essay addresses a topic.
- English grammar should be appropriate in the whole essay.
A generic structure that you may find useful is: The example below relates to the essay title used on the previous page. Brief recap The characters of Macbeth and Faustus are featuers similar in many respects; for example they both willingly follow a path that leads to their damnation.
You may writlng to create a more link or fluid structure. A generic structure that you may find useful is: So make sure to keep it tidy, clean, and this is relevant even if you are sending it to your professor by e-mail. Your thesis should be a complete statement of your position in one or two sentences, including information on how you will defend your position.
Evaluation of the main arguments As has been shown, the character of Macbeth has a nadir from which he ascends at the conclusion of the play. For Faustus however, there is no such ascension. This fits with the style of the morality play: Questions to ask of your introduction and conclusion may be useful. The study guide What is critical writing? The most characteristic features of critical writing are: With critical writing, you are doing work with the evidence you are using, by adding a level of examination and evaluation. Questions to ask about your level of critical writing may be useful.
Another useful tool to support critical writing is the paragraph! Aim to present one idea per paragraph. Within the paragraph you could: Editing Finally, you need to take a break from your essay so that you can return to it with fresh eyes for the final editing. They are absolutely crucial because it is only at this stage that the student can see that the argument hangs together, has a sequence and is well-expressed.
Editing pf both difficult and important. Also, criticising your writing features of an essay writing you to be easier than creating it in the first place. The art of editing and the sheet: Questions to ask when editing may be useful. Presentation A tutor can learn a worrying amount about the quality of your essay simply from how it looks on the page.
- Have you reminded the reader of the strengths of your argument?
- References Barass R, Students must write:
- Just log in to your account and check if you are satisfied with the work done.
The lengths of paragraphs; the lengths of sentences; the neatness of the reference list; the balance of length between different sections; all offer insight into the kind of essay they are about to read. Shorter words are often preferable to longer words, unless there is some specific vocabulary that you need to include to demonstrate your skill.
Short to middle length sentences are almost always preferable to longer ones. And over-long paragraphs tend to demonstrate that you are not clear about the specific points you are making. Of course, these are general points, and there may be some occasions, or some subject areas, where long paragraphs are appropriate. Accurate grammar and spelling are important. Consistently poor grammar or spelling can give the impression of lack of care, and lack of clarity of thought.
Careless use of commas can actually change the meaning of a sentence. And inaccurate spelling and poor grammar can make for very irritating reading for the person marking it. This practice is now widely accepted where it makes good sense. It is however possible that some tutors may still prefer not to see it. Summary of key points The title is the most important guidance you have. The task ahead is nothing more and nothing less than is stated in the title.
When in doubt about any aspect of your reading for the essay, or about writting writing, the first step is to go back and consult the essay title. This can be surprisingly helpful. A relevant and useful structure to support the presentation of your response to the title is vital.
Expect to undertake an iterative process of planning, reading, drafting, reviewing, planning, reading, re-drafting, and editing. Editing is a crucial part wn the process not an optional extra. References Barass R, Students must write: Stott R, The essay writing process. In Making your case: