If you are a little worried about your essay try these five steps first. Sometimes, writing the perfect essay isn’t as difficult as it first appears when you are sat in front of your PC with a blank word processor document. Remember that never trying is the same as always failing.
Step 1 - Planning Your Essay and Your Time
Create two plans. The first deals with the content of your essay, your research avenues, your research methodology, your essay structure, and some of the general points you wish to add into your essay.
A good plan will help you avoid writer’s block, it will help you manage the flow of your writing, it will help you avoid an unbalanced essay, and as a byproduct, it will help you undertake all of the steps listed above with consummate ease. It will also help you avoid throwing in the towel and simply deciding to use an essay writing service. But even if you choose the best essay writing service, this should be a last resort.
Your other plan should be a time plan. You need to set milestones (goals) and set a time limit for each milestone. Turn them into steps, and try to achieve each step as time goes by. For example, your first step may be to choose a research methodology, and you may set a time limit of a week where you must work for 1.5 hours every night on it.
Tip - Avoid Writer’s Block by Actively Using Your Plan
If you feel a bout of writer’s block coming on, refer back to your plan. You may be stuck on your current section, but if you move on to the next section on your plan, you may return to your current section later.
Step 2 - Find Your Sources Academically and Sneakily
Your teacher should have taught you a series of research techniques and should have given you a number of resources you may use. This is known as the academic research method where you trawl through books, journals and databases to find your research.
The sneaky method involves looking at other essays that have the same topic as your essay. Look at their bibliographies to see which sources they used, and then check them out yourself to see if they are usable.
Tip - See What Other People Have Written
Look for essays that have your topic/title, and see what they have written. Looking over their bibliography is a good idea, but you may also find a few good points by reading their essays and seeing which sources they referenced when they made their points.
Step 3 - Introduction and Conclusion
Write your introduction first and your conclusion last, that is common sense, but you should also change them both so that they sync up. Mark Damen from Utah State University proved that students make their most serious mistakes during the introduction and conclusion, so he offers a quick guide on how to write introductions and conclusions.
Most students finish their essay only to see they have deviated slightly from what the introduction set out. If you find yourself in a similar situation, then change your introduction a little instead of going back and changing your essay.
On a similar note, your introduction and conclusion should sing a similar tune. For example, it is a good idea to mention your hypothesis in both the introduction and the conclusion. The introduction sets up the hypothesis and the conclusion closes on it (settles the issue).
Tip - Marking Guides Are Partially Helpful
Take the time to look up the marking guide your professor/teacher is using. Students slip them online all the time and some teachers have been known to do it. Try marking your own essay when you have finished to see what you will score.
Step 4 - Try To Prove Yourself Wrong As You Go
As you make each point in your essay, consider the alternatives. Use what some call a negative bias (Disconfirmation Bias / Rejection Bias / Motivated Skepticism). It is where you make a point and try to prove yourself wrong. If you discover that your point has holes in it, then you may improve it or change it.
Working like this may seem like a lot of extra work, but that is what you must do if you want a strong (perfect) essay. You need to address the problems with your work before your professor and/or peers can.
Tip - Try To Find More Than One Source per Point
When you make a point in your essay, try to find more than one source that either matches your idea/point or confirms it. If you can find more than one source, there is a good chance that your point is valid.
Step 5 - Proofread Your Essay At the Very Very End
Only start the proofreading process at the very end of your project when you have written your final word. Too many students spend time trying to fix their grammar and spelling while they are writing their essay and it is a terrible waste.
Firstly, during your final edit, you will probably remove and add several chunks of information, which means some of the prior corrections you made were pointless. Secondly, if you go back and correct your word every time you see a red squiggly line, then it will put you off your flow, which will slow you down and make you less productive. Try the Wolverhampton's quick guide to proofreading if you find proofreading a struggle
Tip - Over-Write and Trim down Your Work
If the desired word count is 3000 words, then write 4000 words. Once you are done, you should make your essay more concise and trim out the fluff. At the end, you will be left with 3000 words of pure perfection.
The important thing to realize is that writing an essay is a lot easier when you have a plan. The more times you practice, the more plans you write, the better you’ll be at writing your essays and planning will always be the first thing you do when setting an essay. The reward – good essays that get good grades.