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If left unplanned, the reading stage can swallow up huge amounts of time.Fortunately, there is scope for developing efficiency in several ways: While a certain level of efficiency is desirable, it is also important to remain flexible enough to identify relevant and interesting ideas that you had not anticipated.
To produce a high quality essay you need to demonstrate your ability: The need to use such a wide range of academic skills is probably the main reason why the essay format is so popular with tutors as an assignment.
The word limit adds to the challenge by requiring that all of these skills be demonstrated within a relatively small number of words.
However, even in those essays that appear to be highly creative, unscientific, or personal, an argument of some kind is being made.
It is the argument, and how you decide to present and back up your argument, that will influence your decision on how to structure your essay.
This Study Guide addresses the topic of essay writing.
The essay is used as a form of assessment in many academic disciplines, and is used in both coursework and exams. Thought mapping; Referencing and bibliographies; Avoiding plagiarism; The art of editing.As a tutor has said (Creme and Lea, 1997 p41): ‘When my students ask me about essay writing, there are three main pieces of advice that I give them. The Mini Guide: Essay terms explained, and Questions to ask about interpreting essay titles may be useful.To start you off, and to minimise the likelihood of writer’s block, a useful exercise is to do a ‘brainstorm’ of all your ideas in connection with the essay title. It can be much less stressful to throw all your thoughts down on paper, before you start trying to find answers to these questions.Then you need to plan how you will respond to every single element of the title.The guidance given to you by the title is freely available, and is your best clue to what is required in your essay. Three, answer the question.’ This is important at the start, but also throughout your writing, as it can be easy to drift away and waste valuable words from your word limit by writing material that may be interesting, but which is not relevant to the title set.It is worth attending to all of the suggestions and comments you receive, and trying to act on them.Common criticism given to students is that their essay: These elements will be used to give a broad overall structure to this Study Guide.Editing your writing as you develop your ideas is a positive not a negative process: the more you cross out, re-write, and re-order, the better your essay should become. The structure may be strong and clear, or it may be unobtrusive and minimal but, in a good essay, it will be there.Underpinning the structure will be the ‘argument’ your essay is making.Instead, you can catch all of your ideas, in no particular order, on a sheet or two of A4.Once they are down there it will be easier for you to start to review them critically and to see where you need to focus your reading and note taking.