As a student myself, it is coming up to the time where I will be submitting the last essays of my entire degree – and for myself, and for many others, it is a scary thought! Throughout the years teachers and lecturers have provided us with tips and advice for every essay under the sun, but sometimes it’s difficult to see how those tips apply more generally to all of our written work. I have summed up what I think are the five most important pieces of advice and explained what they really mean – in normal terms! It is important to note that these don’t apply just to shorter essays, but also to longer pieces of work and even dissertations too! Let’s get started:
Your argument should be consistent throughout your essay. Your essay question could be asking you to critically assess something, or to compare and contrast two things. With questions like these you should always look at both sides of the argument almost equally throughout the essay to come to a conclusion; however, the conclusion that you will eventually draw should be consistent throughout the essay. An easy way to make sure that you are doing this is to keep referring back to the essay question at the end of each new point that you make and explaining why it is relevant.
When using evidence and statistics to back up your points, be selective. It is important to read widely around the subject but it is not necessary to include everything you have read. Only include facts or studies that directly help you to demonstrate the point you are trying to make. Also make sure to reference these correctly.
Each time you make a point, try to look at it objectively and ask yourself – What could be another point of view? How could this be criticised? Who would disagree with what I have said? What weaknesses are there in the points that you are making? Also support these criticisms with evidence!
A good essay is one which has a clear and strong conclusion! In order to round off your essay nicely you need to end on a strong note that will stick in the marker’s mind and make them think ‘wow!’. Explain which side of the argument you have landed on, or reinforce your main point. In most cases it is perfectly okay to land ‘on the fence’ about a topic, as long as you provide evidence for why you have done this. Try not to introduce any new information or new points into your conclusion; it should just be a summary paragraph of what you have already covered in the main body of your essay.
Read through the finished product carefully – and I don’t just mean looking for spelling errors. Have you repeated anything twice that is not necessary? This is a mistake that I often make – time and time again! One way that I try to combat this is to get my work read by someone else, whether they are a student or not. A fresh pair of eyes can pick out things that I have missed (or repeated). It’s also hard to look an essay objectively when you have spent weeks on it and you think it’s pretty good!
I hope you have found these tips useful and I wish you the best of luck with your essays and dissertations! Have a fabulous day 🙂