Learning to Write Essays

MBA-studentEssays are still a big part of homework assignments and coursework because there has yet to be found a method of encouraging home learning and testing a student that allows them to work at their own pace. The problem is that people can pay others to write their essays, which is undermining the educational system. But, until another method of home-learning and testing is created then essays are here to remain. They solidify learning through forcing the student to research and assimilate the information in his or her own way. They are used to test students by checking to see if they understand the source material and concepts enough to be able to structure and complete a well-written essay about it.

Essays all have a structure of some variety

The academic world is not prepared to accept text without a standard structure. Some will accept a simple, introduction, body and conclusion, but that is a very basic structure that is unlikely to gain many marks for educational purposes. Top writers insist that good essays have a very specific structure that helps to classify them. For example, a research paper is going to need a results and analysis section of sorts and an argumentative paper is going to need a thesis of some sort. The structure of an essay helps to make it more readable and often defines what type of paper the essay actually is.

Essays are marked for both flow and ideas

Have a look at the essays that have scored very well. You will notice that they have a lot of references and a lot of ideas. The concentration of ideas, assumptions and thoughts put into an essay are vital to it scoring highly. You have to cover all the bases when you write a high scoring essay, but the essay must also flow and meld each idea into itself; otherwise a bullet point list of ideas and theories would score the highest. How the ideas link to the main thesis is important, as is getting those ideas down on the essay in a way that makes it easy for the reader to understand and follow. This is why brainstorming and research is just as important as structure, outlines and the dissemination process.

Tips that help you score highly

These are not tips for a student who wants to pass. These are tips for students who want to dig deep into the essay writing process and score more highly. Each tip is part of the essay writing process, so doing each tip in order is a good idea.

Create a skeleton outline

This is where you decide what you want to include, why, how and indicate the manner of proof you are going to provide; it is a skeleton plan for your essay.

Put your outline into a structure to make a plan

Structure your essay for the type of paper it is supposed to be, For example, introduction, thesis statement, results, analysis, evaluation, conclusion, research notes, etc.

Duplicate your plan and keep one simple

Now your plan should start to look a little fuller. At this point you need to duplicate it and keep a version of your thin/skeleton plan. The duplicate is then added to as you continue. The thin plan is kept to help you maintain your direction and help you stay on track if your other plan becomes too convoluted. Think of your thin plan as your roadmap. The duplicate plan is more of a resource center.

Add notes to your duplicate/other plan that fleshes out the content

Add in your research notes, thesis points, ideas, thoughts, and anything else that is going to help you write your essay. This is the plan that you refer to as you write your essay, only referring to thin plan when trying to fix your essay flow or direction.

Use the marking structure to temper your word count

If you are lucky then your academic institution gave you questions with marks per question on each. Use those marks to temper your word count by adding them up and dividing the word count by the marks. For example, you have five questions at 20 marks each, with a word count of 3000 for the entire piece. This gives you your word count per mark, which you then multiply by how many marks each question has. It is (3000 / (20 x 5)) * 20. This means each question should have approx 600 words each. Do it by the number of marks and not by the number of questions.

Look at what others have said about references before reading them yourself

If you read every book you needed to research then you would be at it for years. Look at what others have said about books you think are relevant and figure out what they are about first and which chapters are going to be relevant to your work.

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