Essay writing tips for university students

Essays, essays, essays! A lot of university students rock up to university without writing an essay in their life. Therefore, when you get assigned an essay as part of your coursework it can most definitely throw a spanner in the works! Essays take a lot of planning and understanding to get them right. So, I wanted to give you a few tips to get you on the right lines to a perfect essay!

An essay is essentially a set of ideas that need to be backed up by evidence (must be reliable) to create a discussion that you are arguing in a structured way.

Time

Before your essay make sure you plan ahead and give yourself time to do it. You will thank yourself so much for doing this when it gets nearer to your deadline. A writing schedule can be a great idea. If you Google ‘writing schedule’ there are websites that can create a schedule for you if you put your deadline in.

Checklists and Planning

Having a checklist handy is key to making sure you include all the things you need to include. So basically, a summary of the brief. Prior planning will make your essay writing so much easier when it comes to it.

Stages of Planning

  • Schedule time – you can find a planner where you can schedule your essay.
  • Get organised and prepared
  • Consider the mark scheme – create a checklist including the word count
  • Break down the question – analysis it and break down specifically what you need to talk about. Look at the directive words like analysis or discus as these words will tell you what to do, then look at focus words which are the particular things in that topic that you need to be restricted to
  • Jot down some ideas – e.g., Ideas for each paragraph
  • Think about it and see if you can come up with new ideas
  • Do some research on the topic – this can be reading
  • Draft your work
  • Re-draft
  • Proofread your work
  • Edit anything that needs editing

Structure

Essays are different from reports based on the fact they do not have headings. Your essay should have an intro, a main body which includes different paragraphs and a final conclusion.

You must link your sentences so that they follow, and the reader can understand so connecting words are good to use to do this.

Use your introduction to give the reader a good idea of what you are talking about and how you are going to be discussing it. Your main body should then be used to set out the main ideas. Each paragraph should show how other paragraphs link together.

You should not be jumping around with your answer it should flow. Related information should be in the same paragraph.

When writing your essay, you should go from the broader topics to the narrow topics.

TIP: A good idea is to plan using PowerPoint so you can create an order that makes sense and if it doesn’t make sense, you can move the slides around then form these slides into paragraphs.

What to include in paragraphs

You should be including an intro sentence. This should introduce the topic and your main thought about it. Next you ned to use some evidence to back up your thoughts. After this you will need to develop your sentences to suggest why your examples support your thought or argument. Your paragraph will need a concluding sentence to cover all the points you wanted to mention.

It is a great idea to use signposting words.

Differences between essays and reports

There are many differences between reports and essays. It is very important when you start university that you note these differences and learn the structures for each type of academic writing.

  1. Reports usually have a table of content unlike essays.
  2. Reports can be put into sub sections and future sections using numbers and heading. Essays have separate paragraphs but usually do not have any headings.
  3. Reports sometimes contain graphs, figures and tables to use as evidence to back up points whereas essays do not use graphs, figures or tables.
  4. Reports usually conclude with a recommendation whereas essays only form a conclusion not a recommendation.

However, there are also some similarities. Both reports and essays usually have a reference list at the end.

Final Thoughts

The key to any good essay is to plan! Make sure you know all the things you need to include from your brief, and then make sure you know the style of an essay paper. Then just give yourself enough time to prepare and research before you start writing and you will be fine!

If you are stuck, then you can reach out to your tutor. Or there may be certain classes put on by your university or your library where you can get specific help on essay writing.