As I’m just finishing my last English essay of my first year of university, I have always wondered what the perfect essay would look like. I’ve written countless essays throughout secondary school, sixth form and university and I’ve also read many myself. I have stayed up until 3am before trying to submit my essays before their deadlines at university due to some essays being too overwhelming. As I’m studying an English and Education joint honours degree and aspire to go into English Secondary School teaching, I thought I’d put together some essay writing tips to help others with their writing.
- Always plan your essay – Brainstorm your ideas and make logic of your thoughts by writing them down. Planning ensures your essay will have a direction/line of argument meaning you will always be answering the main essay question.
- Don’t leave it until the last minute! – Writing essays can be time consuming, therefore leaving it to the last minute to complete it may result in a rushed essay.
- Read your essay out loud to spot any grammatical errors, and always proofread your work.
- Always read and consider the feedback given to you from previous essays. This will enable you to build on your essay writing skills. Try not to take any constructive criticism personally, the marker is criticising your writing and not you as a person.
- Try and read the work of other people and how they construct their essays. This can give you inspiration on how to write parts of your essay.
- Always begin with the main body of the essay, and come back to the introduction and conclusion after you know exactly what you’ve written so you can properly introduce and conclude what you have written and you know they’ll both be relevant.
I also emailed my university English lecturers asking if they could give one top tip, what would it be and here are their responses:
- Nick said: “Plan! Always sketch a plan before you do your research, and then re-write that plan accordingly (even if that means reversing things or cutting things or adding things). Having a clear plan of what you’re going to say will help you make sure to explain why you’re saying it in the body of the essay.”
- Jayne said: “My tip would be to have a developmental argument – i.e. being able to develop an argument from something quite simple to something more complicated. A good structure should be the backbone of this, with each paragraph being a step in the process.”
They have both written and published their own books, and are good at their job, so they really do know what they are talking about!
“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure”Collin Powell