If you are a university student, then you’re already aware how agonising the process of essay writing can be. Whether it’s an application essay or an expository one, you get too overwhelmed every time you are assigned with a topic to write about. Regardless of however tedious it may seem to be, it isn’t impossible to accomplish if you divide the tasks into manageable pieces of write-up. Don’t believe us? Well, even Barack Obama believes, “Yes. We can”. So before you roll your eyes in disbelief, let’s discuss the easiest way to write an essay whatever its aim might be.
1. Make sense of the question
This may seem a little odd as advice, but the fact is that the inability to make sense of the question that’s highlighted within your particular topic is one of the most common causes behind the dwindling state of your academic performance when it comes to writing an essay. What are requirements of your essay? Do you need to critically analyze the topic? Assess a specific situation?
You will come across several common terms in your essay question, and each shows some distinctive expectations to fulfil. If you’re required to examine a specific theoretical aspect, like, you have to decipher not only that particular theory but also other aspects linked with the concept. These concepts must be compared with one another, revealing the strengths and shortcomings of each theory and more significantly, you must derive a well-defined and strong conclusion.
If you are required to assess the validity of something, you don’t need to go into the in-depth critical evaluation. However, you still have to recognize the alternative methods, and also take into account some weaknesses and strengths – but for the most of the work, the emphasis should be on the practical approaches. In this regard, it’d be best if you can lay your hands on some relevant case studies to prove the efficacy of the approaches – what was the observation you made? Does the approach have any drawback and shortcomings?
Speaking of the specific approaches, ‘compare and contrast’ essays fall into the bracket of the above mentioned technique where you need to follow an analytical approach and review the literature, but you need to maintain your focus firmly on the concepts that you are required to contrast and compare. It is essential to highlight that you are aware of the core theories in elaborate detail, both in the aspects of theory and practice.
Ideally, the terms used in the essay question will determine how the essay should be presented. It will define where the emphasis of your writing should rest as you set out to prepare it.
2. Make a plan and organize your write-up
Deciphering the question is the first stage, but it’s also crucial that you use your time judiciously when preparing the essay. Many students tend to undermine the amount of effort required to write an excellent essay which leads to two things - spending most of the day in the library and a below average academic performance. If you wish to obtain good grades, begin by creating a schedule to write your essay the moment you make sense of the essay question.
Set deadlines for yourself and make sure you follow them diligently; that way you won’t feel pressurised with too much work when your submission date closes in. It is also significant for you to finish the task well ahead of the deadline so that you get some time between completing the first draft and proofreading the paper.
3. Focus on the logical flow and proper structure
Presenting your key statements is almost as vital as the statements themselves, that’s why it’s necessary that your essay maintains a logical framework. Following a concise and rational outline will ensure that your essay remains coherent, and which won’t deviate from the question that needs to be addressed. Each section of the write-up should justify the arguments you are trying to uphold. As you write the paper, it’s wise to go back to previously written sections and ask yourself “Does this sentence/segment relate to the argument?” If you notice that you are unable to address this question, there is an increasing possibility that you have shifted from your primary argument, and you may have to alter the way of presentation.
You should also see to it that all the specific segments of your essay are properly linked to form a logical and cohesive whole, and there has to be a sort of fluidity when you move from one argument to another. University students often look at critical essays as a comprehensive list of arguments, placing one after the other without sparing any thought on how to justify the structure which invariably results in poor grades. The key is to let your reader know why you are moving from one argument to the next, why they are placed in such a way, and how each argument throws light on a certain aspect of what you are describing.
4. Be analytical
What they say about perfection being an illusion, hold true in case of academic theories and concepts as well. Most of the theories, ideas and analyses that you’ll come across in your research are flawed. Being descriptive is acceptable if you are looking to score just about a passing grade, but if you’re aiming higher, you need to resort to critical reasoning in the treatment of your academic paper. What are the pitfalls of the theories you are focusing on? How have these theories been portrayed in the literature? How do they influence the set of arguments mentioned in your paper? What are the alternative studies that might provide depth to your essay?
The ability to analyze critically is what makes your essay striking. It reveals to the professor or examiner that you aren’t simply rehashing the statements that have appeared to you throughout your research process, rather you’re cultivating the resources in an appropriate manner. A nice way to maintain this is to provide your unfettered attention when going through literature reviews in various scholarly articles; you will notice that writers don’t just sum up the studies conducted previously, but also present a precise analysis that bridges the gap in their research.
5. Read voraciously
While writing down the notes that are relevant to your research process is important, but you can’t deny the necessity of reading at the same time. Before you write your paper, you should perform a detailed research on the topics connected to your chosen one. You should know that scouring through a vast amount of information is also a skill. You should begin by looking through multiple journals and articles pertinent to your topic by applying the keywords associated with the topic of your essay. Once you find a write-up that suits your needs, go through the abstract to make sure that it’s focused.
If you are still not convinced, it is ideally a good idea to move to the conclusion section, which consists of a brief analysis, and will assist you in identifying whether you should follow the research material. You wouldn’t want to spend your precious time and look through countless articles only to find that they aren't connected with your topic. Once you come across the appropriate research materials, you should
It’s crucial that you don’t depend on only one or two resources as that would reveal to the professor that you haven’t indulged in an array of literature available. You should be specifically watchful in referring to course books as these are ideally representation of other people’s research.
6. Write appropriately
Another common aspect, ideally among first and second-year students, is that they happen to adopt a rather informal approach in their writing which doesn’t go with the norms of academic writing. When preparing an academic paper, a clear, coherent and detailed language should be the mainstay of the assignment.
Now that you have gained a bit of understanding about the steps, it’s your turn to apply them in practice whenever you’re assigned with a complicated essay.
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