The Learning Development Centre

Essay Writing
What makes a good essay?
1. Make sure that you have defined your topic. Are you quite sure that you understand what you should be writing about? Sometimes questions are ambiguous (not clear) and you are not sure what your lecturer wants. ASK! 2. Do you understand what all the words in your assignment mean? Look them up. It is a good idea to write the title of the assignment in your own words to check that you really understand it.

3. Give yourself plenty of time. There is nothing worse than having to rush your research and then not having time to write it up properly. You should not try to write the essay all in one go. Give yourself time between drafts to think about what you have written. 4 Be careful of kidding yourself that you are actually working – tidying your desk and sharpening your pencils doesn’t count. If you can’t think of anything to write, then just write any old thing. It’s called free writing. Just put all ideas that come to mind about the subject down on paper. Don’t bother about editing what you are writing. Just write. When you read it over later you will probably find that you have some interesting ideas to up.




If you are writing an assignment or project it isn’t always a good idea to start with the introduction. Work out the main body of your argument and your conclusion. That makes it much easier to go back and write an introduction that links with the concluding paragraphs. In an exam when you don’t have much time it is often a good idea to rephrase the question, eg if the question reads Discuss the various stages of development in middle childhood, you can simply start by saying “In this essay the various stages of development in middle childhood


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will be discussed…” or even more simply “In this essay I will discuss the ….” It is a good idea to sort out early on with your lecturer if s/he will allow you to use “I’ (the first person) in your essays. 8 Make sure that your essay is logical. Put your point of view forward clearly and tell the reader how you are going to argue your case. Make sure that you link your paragraphs and do not jump from one idea to another. There are several ways to link paragraphs. One is to use “link” words that show a connection with the previous paragraph. Here are some useful linking words

Linking idea Adding to the ideas you have already stated Cause and effect
Comparison Concession (admitting something that might go against your argument) Contrast Enumeration Conclusion

Link word again, also, then, furthermore, in addition accordingly, as a result, otherwise, consequently also, in the same way, similarly, as well as admittedly, however, although, indeed on the other hand, nonetheless, but, notwithstanding first, next, moreover, to begin with, second, third, later, earlier in conclusion, to sum up, thus, finally, lastly


Your conclusion should bring together all the different parts of your essay. Usually your concluding paragraph will summarise very briefly the main point/points of your essay but you need to do more than this. You can point out why what you have said is significant. You might discuss the implications of your essay or briefly mention other points which need to be looked at but are outside the scope of the essay. Finally, your introduction can be written because now you have all the information you need. Here you can tell your reader: what you understand the topic to mean your main argument what issues you will discuss what your conclusion will say.


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When you have finished the essay, match it against the following checklist to see if you have met the required criteria :
Is the discussion relevant and have you answered all parts of the question? Have you used a clear and consistent thread to develop your argument or ideas? Is there effective use of the evidence from your readings and data? Have you provided a critical analysis by looking at the researched data and then deciding what they mean and what are the most convincing arguments? Is there a logical linking of your ideas in the sentences and the paragraphs? Have you checked the physical layout of your essay (eg cover page, wordprocessing, spelling and headings)?

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2007_essay_writing.doc Created on 3/03/2006 10:26 AM

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