Essay writing is a vital part of academic life and is something that students cannot overlook. Writing an academic essay demands specific skills that not every student may have. If you have never written an academic essay before, this task could get overwhelming soon. Fortunately, our academic essay writing guide can help. It will give you a clear plan on how to develop a topic and write an essay on your own.
Step 1: Choose your essay topic
Your instructor may ask you to write an essay on a specific topic or provide a list of topics that you may choose from. This, of course, makes your work simpler or narrows down your choices allowing you to think about the next step – research – from the word go.
Sometimes, however, you may be asked to choose your own topic. It’s important not to take this task lightly. Remember that your essay topic has to be relevant to your course. Another thing to keep in mind is to see if your essay topic may eventually be an idea that could turn into a research paper down the line. This may or may not happen, but it helps to keep this end goal in sight.
Brainstorming is a useful technique to adopt if you’re not entirely sure how to choose a topic for your academic essay. This involves jotting down all the ideas that come to mind. Once you draw up an exhaustive list of topics (related to your course) review the list to see if there’s an idea or strain of thought that is dominant in your list. This can help you come up with your essay topic. Once you choose the topic the next step is to create a concise statement comprising the main idea of your essay.
Step 2: Research
Once you have chosen the topic it’s time to research and gather interesting information about it. You can conduct an in-depth researche online as well as visit your local library or university library to find the information you need. It helps to note down crucial dates, names and numbers while you are doing your research so you can easily access all the easily forgettable details. If, on the other hand, you are writing an essay based on your personal experience, you may not need to research as much as you would have to otherwise.
Step 3: Construct an outline for your essay
Now that you have all the vital information you need the next step is to create an outline for your essay. Whether you are writing a five-paragraph high school essay or a longer, more complex one for your university course, an introductory passage and a concluding paragraph are essential.
One way to structure your essay is to use different paragraphs to convey different ideas while maintaining the flow of ideas from one paragraph to another to form a cohesive essay.
Step 4: Write your essay
After deriving your outline it’s time to flesh out your essay. But, before you start writing, think about what makes a good essay?
According to UNSW Sydney, a good essay:
- Will persuade or convince readers of the validity of an idea that you propose and present through your essay
- answers a question
- has a thesis statement and an argument
- presents an idea or ideas using reasoning and evidence
- includes relevant examples and substantiates the ideas presented with proof and supporting information from credible sources that are properly referenced to avoid claims of plagiarism.
This is a good checklist to refer to before and after you write your essay.
While writing your essay, introduce the topic and include your thesis statement in the introduction. You can also provide a summary of your essay briefly describing the main ideas in the introductory paragraph.
The body of the essay should include separate paragraphs to build on each idea, all the time discussing, arguing, and convincing your reader that you know what you are talking about. Use established facts and statistics from credible academic sources citing them in the style specified by your university. This is good practice even if you are reading this article to gain tips on how to write a school essay which may not always require you to present references in a specific format. Referencing sources and presenting the citations in the required format will help you avoid plagiarism claims.
Your conclusion should summarise the ideas that support your thesis. Some students and researchers find it helpful to write the introduction and conclusion after writing the body paragraphs through which they can present their argument and defend their thesis statement.
Steps 1 to 4 will help you develop your first draft. The last step is indispensable.
Step 5: Edit
After completing your first draft, take a breather – a few days if you can afford the luxury of time or a few hours at least. Then, go back and review your work looking for typical errors such as grammatical mistakes, spelling and punctuation errors, use of passive voice, and long-winded sentences, etc. Always double check numbers and dates to make sure that your information is factually correct.
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