HOW TO WRITE ESSAYS

Updated: May 20

INTRODUCTION-

The skill of writing essays is an essential tool if you are to achieve the kind of grade you want in the courses you are studying. this is true whether you are studying at school or college, or trying to gain a degree at university.


There is no single, foolproof method of successful essay- writing. However the advice and the practical guidance you will receive in this will provide you with all receive in this book will provide you with you need to know about how to improve your grade assessments by putting into practice some simple, but invaluable, principles of essay writing.

Tho's approaches will work for you whether you are facing assessment in timed examinations and /or being judged by coursework assignments. In essence, the principal of essay-writing applies to both situations: when you are under the pressure of an examination room, at home or in college with more time to produce your assignment essay.

In the case of examination, you have to be effective at sitting examinations in order to maximize your grade potential. Like almost everything else, there is an art to taking exams. In other words, what you are being examined on when you sit an exam is your ability to sit examinations.

Essay –writing is, then crucial in both instances: exams and continual assessment. In most subjects, a talent for essay-writing is essential to achieve high grades. Candidates who fall down in these aspects of their work will do harm to their own chances of achieving the higher grades. It is as important as that, not some optional extra you can add to your knowledge o a subject. Essay-writing skills are an essential component of being a successful student at all levels.

My belief is that the basic essay-writing skills are not that difficult to acquire. the reason why so many students fail to acquire these skills is that not enough attention has been paid to teaching them. It is inevitable that schools, colleges, and universities spend most of their time teaching the core subject – matter of a course, but hardly any time in advising students how to put their ideas down on paper in the form of an essay. Once you have learned this method, you should be in a much stronger position to face up to the demands of essay-writing in your various and across the subject range.

1-PLANNING YOUR ESSAY-

A- What are you being asked to do?

B- Making a plan.

2- THE OPENING PARAGRAPH

3-THE BODY OF THE ESSAY

A- Paragraphs

B- More examples of paragraphs

C- Continuity

D- The use of close references

E- More about the body of the essay

4- THE CLOSING PARAGRAPH

A- FINAL SENTENCE

B- FURTHER EXAMPLES OF CLOSING PARAGRAPHS

5- SUMMARY OF ESSAY STRUCTURE

6- SAMPLE ESSAY1: DISCURSIVE ESSAY

7- SAMPLE ESSAY 2: LITERATURE

8- SAMPLE ESSAY 3: WRITING ABOUT POETRY

9-SAMPLE ESSAY 4: ANOTHER ESSAY ON A POEM

10- SAMPLE ESSAY 5: A MEDIA STUDIES ESSAY

11- SAMPLE ESSAY 6- HISTORY

12- SAMPLE ESSAY 7: WRITING ABOUT A NOVEL

13- SAMPLE ESSAY 8: WRITING IN RESPONSE TO A CRITICAL THINKING TASK

14- SAMPLE ESSAY 9: A FILM STUDIES ESSAY

15- SAMPLE ESSAY 10-: A POLITICS ESSAY

16- GRAMMAR AND ACCURACY

A-Writing in sentences

b- Punctuation

c- the use of the apostrophe

17- SPEELING

A- Their/there/they’re

B- Where/where/we’re

.

1-PLANNING YOUR ESSAY-

Why should you make a plan for your essay? Why ‘waste time’ doing that when you are in a pressured examination situation or pushed to produce a coursework assignment?

Because it will pay off in the long run in terms of the relevance, organization, and clarity of your essay.

Think about occasions when in everyday conversation you are asked your opinion about how to do something. Isn’t your answer more likely to be well-received when you give the matter some thought before you jump in with both feet?

It is the same with essays, whether they are for coursework assignments or timed answers in classrooms or examination situations. A little prior thought which is transformed into brief notes will pay dividends.

WHAT ARE YOU BEING ASKED TO DO?

Whatever the form of the assignment you are given, you have to focus on the specific task you are being asked to perform: not what you would like the task or subject to be, but the actual task the question is asking you to perform. forget the fact that you know a great deal about particular aspects of a subject and focus your energies on answers on the exact topic you have been asked about. So give what they want, not the answer you would like to write, but the answer you’ve been asked to write.

MAKING A PLAN- Essays must have a planned structure. This is important for you, the writer of the essay. If you have a clear structure in your own mind, then it will be easier for you to organize your content and present it in a way that will represent your knowledge of the topic in the best possible light.

However, it is equally important for the reader of your essay. This will be the teacher or examiner who will have to read your essay. It is essential that you make things as easy and understandable for them as possible. if you don’t have the assessors on your side because you made things difficult for them by your lack of essay organization, focus clarity, and continuity then it is highly likely they will downgrade your essays.

Any essay has to have an overall structure and make sense as a whole. however, for the purpose of instilling a structured approach to essay –writing, it is useful to think of an essay as consisting of three main sections:

1- The opening paragraph

2- The development or body of the essay

3- The conclusion.

IN EXAMINATIONS SITUATION-

In examination situations, where you are working against the clock and you have several questions to answer, you do not have the same time at your disposal to make such a detailed plan. However, despite the urgency that inevitably is part –and –parcel of any examinations situation, it will be profitable to spend a few minutes making an essay plan, rather than plunging straight into writing your answers. Remember, in examinations, it is not how much you write, but the quality of what you write that will bring high grades. Length of answer, then, is not the be-all and end-all. it is as well to remember that in any examination, you will normally only e able to use a fraction of what you know about any given subject. You have to reconcile yourself to that fact and decide what is most relevant to the assigned task from your body of knowledge about a given topic. When you have read the question and underlined the keywords to focus your thoughts on what it is you are being asked to do, make brief notes in the form of words and phrases to help you focus further. Now you have a structured approach to your examination essay.

2- THE OPENING PARAGRAPH-

What do you write in the first paragraph of your essay? We have all experienced that hollow feeling of looking at the blank page and wondering how on earth to start. Even professional writers such as journalists and novelists frequently Blanche at the thought of filling in those blank pages with words. How do I begin to write this thing? they think to themselves.

Think about times when you pick up a book in a bookshop or library and start reading the first page. The first impression you get from the opening paragraph might determine whether you go on reading it or not. All authors, however famous or experienced, give careful through to the opening of their books. After all, they have to grab the attention of their potential readers. You have the same need to grab the attention of your readers as these authors. The difference is the people who assess your work won’t have a choice about whether or not to continue reading your essay. Therefore, it is very important that their first impression of your essay is favorable. you don’t want to have a reluctant assessor making your work, someone who is really struggling to get through it. Therefore, it is worthwhile spending some time on improving the openings to your essays. Aim to make a good impression on your assessor with your opening paragraph.

3-THE BODY OF THE ESSAY-

Imagine you have started your essay with a relevant, concise opening paragraph in which you reader/ assessor what approach you are going to take in answering the question that has been set. You have to come through with the goods in the body of the essay. This is the section of the essay where you will earn the bulk of your marks. It is all very well creating an effective opening paragraph and a convicting concluding paragraph, but these will count for little if the development section of your essay is unsatisfactory.

PARAGRAPHS-

An appropriate use of paragraphs is an essential part of writing coherent and well-structured essays. Paragraph is the means by which you order the material so that your reader can make sense of it and follow the flow of ideas as you them.

Paragraphs are an essential tool in that process. Paragraph give you, the writer, an opportunity to move seamlessly from one point to another in a clear and ordered manner, so that your reader can follow what you are trying to say or express. Without paragraphs, your essays could appear jumbled and incoherent.

CONTINUITY-

You must make it as easy as possible for your reader/ assessor to follow the development or flow of your essay. He/she must be able to see a clear pathway through what you have written. Your essay must have the appearance of a continuous, coherent, and integrated whole with each section dovetailing in with the previous section.

The body of the essay is where you will earn most of your marks. To earn those marks you must:

1- Write in structured paragraphs, consisting of a key sentence that expresses the main point of the paragraph, followed by several sentences that develop this key point, using concrete relevant examples and references.

2- Provide a continuity from paragraph to paragraph by using linking words and phrases;

3- Leave the reader with the impression that you have organized the content in a logical, accessible, and detailed manner.

CLOSING PARAGRAPH-

The conclusion of your essay, in the form of a closing paragraph, is just as important as your opening, the first paragraph. The opening paragraph makes a first impression on your assessor. your final paragraph will be the last impression you make before the assessor grades your essay. It is clear that you must assessor will take stock of your essay as a whole, but the paragraph that ends your essay will definitely be an important factor it is assessed.

The function of the closing paragraph is to round off the essay appropriately.

FINAL SENTENCE-

A neat, rounding –off a sentence that leaves your reader with about is sound practice in essay-writing.

It is relevant to the topic, adds a note of finality to the conclusion, and underlines the seriousness of the situation.

SUMMARY OF ESSAY STRUCTURE-

Your essay needs a beginning,a middle, and an end. In that order!

The opening, usually consisting of one paragraph for an average- length essay, should get to grips with the set topic immediately. Avoid just filling up space with an empty waffle. The body of the essay is where you carry out what you have said you would do in the opening paragraph. Impress your assessor with the coherence, organization and continuity of your essay. The body of the essay is the section where the close detail of the essay is found.

SAMPLE ESSAY 1: A DISCURSIVE ESSAY-

Discursive essays, sometimes referred to as argumentative essays, involve you in outing forward arguments for and against a particular point of view.

Essays of the type can often be rambling and unfocused. To avoid those faults, it is necessary to keep a tight hold on the development of the argument you are making and to back up the points you are making with detailed examples. Allow for the counter-argument to the thesis you are supporting and deal with them.

SAMPLE ESSAY 2: LITERATURE

There is a method of writing well-structured essays that holds good for most subjects whether it be English literature, history, media, studies, social studies, or various types of general essays ( personal /creative/, discursive/argumentative, descriptive). The structure this book has recommended in the previous sections is not the only approach you could take, but applying it to your own writing assignments will stand you in good stead.

ESSAYS ON LITERATURE IN EXAMINATIONS

To answer literature questions in examinations, you should follow the same structure as outlined previously . it is just as important to have a clear opening, a structured development, and a considered conclusion.

The main difference between literature essays and other types of essay answers is your need to make close references to the specific literary text(s) you are responding to in order to back up the analysis you are making in the essay. In addition to close references, there is also the matter of the use of a quotation from the text.

In literary essays, you must use close references to the original text to back up your analysis. quotation should also be used but relevantly and concisely.

ASSESSING THE ESSAY:

Put yourself in the position of the assessor who has to grade this essay, ask yourself these questions:

. Does the opening paragraph address the topic of the question and say something about it, indicating the kind of ground that will be covered in the remainder of the essay?

. Does it avoid empty waffle?

Consider each of the next six paragraphs.

. Do they each have a key sentence?

. Do they all deal mainly with one key point?

. Is this key point developed and backed up by close references to the text?

. Are relevant quotation used?

. Does the final sentence of each paragraph act as a kind of summarising sentence for the paragraph or point towards the text?

. Are these six paragraphs linked together by a linking word or phrase?

. Is there a sense of continuity or flow to these six paragraphs, the body of the essay?

. Does the essay indicate in the final paragraphs, some kind of conclusion is being reached?

. Does the final paragraph act as a kind of summary of the case the writer has been making?

. Does the final paragraph round off the essay appropriately, bringing the essay squarely back to the overall topic of the question?

SAMPLE ESSAY 3: writing about poetry

When you write about poetry, you have to be aware that it is not the same as when you are writing about prose or drama. The specific characteristics of poetry such as concentration or weight of language, the form, rhythms and cadences, figurative language and Imagery, must be acknowledged and dealt with. Of course, prose at times uses figurative language and imagery and often has it sown rhythms as well. So prose and poetry often share literary characteristics. It is possible to talk about poetic prose and prosaic poetry when one or the other is permeated with features commonly associated with the other mode.

Generally, however, in poetry it is the importance that the, language – or diction, as it is called in poetry- is given, the concentration of meaning that poets give their words, that creates the resonance of meaning that creates the effect the poet is seeking.

SAMPLE ESSAY – WRITING IN RESPONSE TO A CRITICAL THINKING TASK

Critical thinking involves close textual analysis and evaluation of arguments. You will be expected to identify in the given text how the argument is structured, the conclusion that is drawn from the points that are drawn from the points that are presented. You are expected to display your understanding of the assumptions that underpin arguments and to analyze any flaws in the argument.

SAMPLE ESSAY- A POLITICS ESSAY

Writing essays about politics and political history clearly shares common ground with history essays. You have to have your facts at your fingerprint and familiarise yourself with the accepted terms of the subject area. Your close analysis has to be backed up with the relevant and specific examples that illustrate the points you are making.

GRAMMAR AND ACCURACY

Writing an essay in a structured and clear way so that your reader/assessor can follow what you are trying to say is a very important factor in the assessment grade you achieve. Another important factor is the accuracy of what you write. By accuracy we mean not only the clarity of the expression but the correctness of usage in terms of grammar, punctuation, and spelling. If you make too many grammatical, punctuation, and spelling errors in your writing, this will create the wrong impression and lose your marks so that your grade assessment will be affected.

Anyone, that includes the author of this book and your teachers and assessors, can make grammatical, punctuation, or spelling errors, especially when writing at speed, such as in an examination. Examiners are usually told to penalize candidates whose writing is error-prone. That is true for course-work assignments as well as examinations. Indeed, as spell –checks and grammar checks are readily available on computers now, there is even less excuse to present flawed work for course work.

PUNCTUATION-

All sentences start with a capital letter and end with a full stop. Of course, you have to know when one sentence ends and another begins so that you can employ the correct punctuation mark.

COMMAS-

Commas cause many students difficulties; when to use them, when not to use them. Some students think the best solution is to insert commas all over the place so that their written work suffers from what we might call ‘comma-it is’, a rash of unwanted commas cluttering up their work.

THE USE OF APOSTROPHE-

The apostrophe is frequently misused and some assessors get very upset about this. One of the most common misuses is it’s ( the abbreviated form of it is ) and it's ( meaning belongs to it). It is amazing how many public notices get these two mixed up.

SPELLING-

As we have already stated, it is important to minimize the number of spelling errors.

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