5 Steps on how to write a University Level Essay
Struggling with essays? This little list might just help!
Essay writing is not an exact science and just as every question is different, so is every student. Ultimately you have to find your own way but I’ve tried to find some tricks to make it easier for all of us!
Exeter University offers a number of helpful resources such as the Royal Literary Fund Fellows, the Writing Centre, your tutors and of course your peers!
I spoke to James Wilson, one of the two Fellows at Exeter Uni, on writing a How-to essay guide. He lends some experienced tips to this mini list.
1. Keep up with the reading so can write about what you genuinely found interesting, not just the only book you read. Start to read your texts over summer and Christmas. Making chapter summaries as you go along means when you start to study those topics, you can just skim over the chapter notes to refresh your memory.
2. Go to your lectures and seminars! If you don’t, don’t complain about not understanding. And no, you’ll never get round to catching up in your own time.
3. The One Sentence Rule is James Wilson’s Golden rule. When you start an essay try to summarise your argument into one sentence. It will help you stay focused and give you confidence. It’s hard to do, but incredibly worth it.
4. Planning – Firstly, find out if you’re a visual, verbal or aural person and see if mindmaps, lists or recording your thoughts suit you (basically find out whatever works for you). James Wilson reminds us that an essay is a journey: the introduction is on one side and the conclusion on the other. The body of the essay is a series of stepping stones between the two. Try to make sure the stones are placed in a logical order. Get the points down first, then the order.
5. Finding your voice/ to “I” or not to “I”? Potentially the most tricky element of essay writing and something that time will help you discover. Don’t get bogged down in ‘making it sound academic’– focus on being clear and simple. You are not expected to compete with life-long academics. James Wilson suggests that although you should first check with your tutor, generally saying “I think” is fine but make sure it is a “I think BECAUSE…”.
These are the top 5 tips for essays, but for a more detailed version with a full list of University resources check out http://musingsofsan.blogspot.com/