Writing an essay can be a daunting task. This is especially the case for those who don’t enjoy writing or who don’t have much practice writing essays often.
Help is on the way! There are a few things students can do to make the essay assignment easier and even enjoyable.
[pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]The first thing to do is plan backward.[/pullquote]
When is your deadline? How much time will it take you to research, write and polish the essay? Do you have other projects and deadlines as well? Those who procrastinate and leave essays until the last minute tend not to do as well as those who ensure they leave ample time to complete the project well. It’s also much less stressful when you plan ahead. Some essays requiring extensive research can take weeks to complete well, while personal essays or those shorter in length might not require as much time to complete. Figure out what else you have to work on, prioritize, and leave enough time complete each assignment, even if it means starting your essay well in advance of the actual deadline.
Next, you’ll want to ensure you understand the assignment. Read the instructions again and again. Ask your classmates or teacher for clarification if you have any questions. That way you don’t waste time working on an assignment only to find out you didn’t understand it properly to begin with.
Some essays require research. Now is the time to begin researching. Read as much as you can about the topic so you can understand the issues and make some informed decisions about what research you’re looking for. Do you need primary sources? Secondary? At this stage, you’ll want to “get all your ducks in a row,” so to speak. You might want to take notes by hand or use your computer to document what information you’re finding and where each piece of information has come from. Failing to document your sources, even accidentally, is considered plagiarism. Make sure you’re keeping careful notes so you can create footnotes or a bibliography at the end of your essay, should that be required. Even make note of information found online, not just facts that came from books or journals.
When you’re ready to sit down and write, you’ll need to begin with an introduction. An introduction lays out the issue at hand, or essentially states what your essay is about. It should also include your thesis, or the point you’ll be making throughout the essay.
In the body of the essay, you will put your research to work. You will use whatever information you’ve collected to prove your thesis. It’s usually advised that you choose three separate arguments within the body that prove your point. You’ll be citing sources and information pertinent to your case. It’s also wise to state current beliefs and then prove them wrong using your research. Make sure to reference your thesis and organize your thoughts in a clear and logical way.
Finally, you’ll need to write the conclusion. This sums up your essay, restates your thesis and, briefly, the points you’ve made in your argument. Essentially, your conclusion wraps things up and lets readers know your essay has come to an end.
You might need to include a bibliography, or all the sources you used to complete your essay. Often teachers will grade this as well. You will want to make sure you’re listing your sources correctly, so go online for a template or ask your teacher about the standard format.
Though you might be done your first draft, you’re not ready to hand in the assignment yet. Read it over for grammatical and spelling errors. You might want to reorganize the information in your body paragraphs or tweak the introduction or conclusion. Have someone else proofread your essay. Ask them whether there are any errors, if your sentences make sense and if you’ve proven your point. Once you’ve made any corrections and read it over again, you’ll be ready to hand in your assignment.
Essays can be a lot of work, but once you’ve done one, you’ll be prepared to write many more in your high school or university career.