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Whether you’re tucking in to a 2000-word essay or making a start on a 16,000-word dissertation, your essay writing technique is an absolutely crucial part of the university process. We all know that writing essays can be a challenging (and sometimes frustrating) process, but the following eleven tips should help you stay on track (and stay clear of Facebook)…
It might sound like the most obvious point in the world, but thorough reading around your chosen topic really can make a huge difference – the person marking your essay will know if you’ve missed out a crucial theorist or misunderstood a key theory.
Don’t just dive straight in and start writing; make sure you take the time to carefully plan out your argument before you begin. This will help the structure of your essay and prevent you from wandering off on any tangents. You can use this advice when putting together your personal statement; make sure your writing flows well, is engaging and interlinks nicely.
You know what we mean… one minute you’re signing in to Facebook to quickly check your news feed, and then two hours later you’re still trawling through photos of people you barely even know while your textbooks gather dust on the side. Turn distractions off while you work!
This is where Facebook comes in handy. It might be good to work without distractions, but it’s just important to give yourself regular breaks. You should also try going for a walk every now and then – it never hurts to get away from the computer for a while.
Speaking to your tutor throughout the essay-writing process is absolutely imperative if you want to do well. Obviously you won’t be able to rely on them for everything, but getting regular feedback on your writing is a key to success.
Don’t just talk to your tutor, either. Getting a bit of a debate going with your classmates and friends can be a great way of generating ideas and developing your arguments.
Whether it’s aiming to have done all your research or reached a specific word count by a certain date, setting targets is an effective way of keeping yourself motivated. This becomes even more important when you’re ploughing through your dissertation; setting reachable goals will make the whole process seem less daunting.
It’s very easy to start writing and completely forget about how much of the word count you’re eating into with every paragraph. Try and keep your ideas concise and to the point, and always have an idea of how many words you’ve written (and how many you still have to write).
If you follow our advice in the previous point, you’ll be glad of it when it comes to editing! If you have the time, it’s always good to leave an essay for awhile after you’ve drafted it so that you can re-read it with fresh eyes in a few days time. Remember, don’t just edit for grammar, spelling and punctuation, but also for the flow, readability and structure of your essay.
There’s nothing worse than losing marks for referencing a text incorrectly. Make sure you check which referencing system your school uses and follow it closely!
So, you think you’ve finished, do you? Wrong! Even more annoying than marks lost through referencing are marks lost due to stupid mistakes. We’d recommend going through your essay with a fine tooth comb, and then asking a friend or two to do the same and give you feedback.
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