Make sure that every paragraph you write has: a topic sentence that lets the reader know what the paragraph is about supporting sentences that provide definition or explanation and then detailed evidence in that order linking words and phrases that connect your ideas, both within the paragraph and between paragraphs e. Finish with a convincing conclusion End your essay with a final statement that briefly reminds the reader of your main idea — that is, the key argument or central point you have made in your essay.
In particular, you should strive to: Use your own words most of the time — paraphrase and summarise what you have read or viewed, and quote very little. Embed your references into the sentences, so that the paragraph still holds together well. Write clearly and concisely Always aim to be clear and concise in your essay writing — get to the point and do so as briefly as you can. To help you do this: Think about the purpose of every sentence and paragraph and try to make that clear to your reader.
When editing your draft, look for doubling up of words and meaning — remove any unnecessary words that add nothing to the meaning. Integrate your evidence carefully.
Introduce quotations and paraphrases with introductory phrases. Revise your first draft extensively. Make sure the entire essay flows and that the paragraphs are in a logical order. Bruinsma, K. Chocolate: Food or drug? Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 99 10 , Chocolate: A heart-healthy food? Show me the science!
Nutrition Today, 37 3 , Nutrition and health aspects of chocolate. Beckett Ed. London: Wiley Blackwell. Everyday mood and emotions after eating a chocolate bar or an apple. Appetite, 46 3 , Immediate effects of chocolate on experimentally induced mood states. Appetite, 49 3 , British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 34 1 , The effects of polyphenol rich chocolate on cardiovascular risk and glycaemic control in type 2 diabetes mellitus Doctoral dissertation, University of Hull, UK.
Mood state effects of chocolate. Journal of Affective Disorders, 92 2 , Effects of chocolate on cognitive function and mood: a systematic review.
Nutrition reviews, 71 10 , Chocolate procyanidins decrease the leukotriene-prostacyclin ratio in humans and human aortic endothelial cells. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 73 1 , Cocoa and chocolate flavonoids: Implications for cardiovascular health.
Using obscure language can also take away from the clarity of your argument—you should consider this before you pull out that thesaurus to change that perfectly good word to something completely different.
Understand the argument and critically analyze the evidence. In the process of writing an academic essay, you should always have your main argument in mind. While it might be tempting to go off on a tangent about some interesting side note to your topic, doing so can make your writing less concise. Always question any evidence you include in your essay; ask yourself, "Does this directly support my thesis?
When you are evaluating evidence, be critical and thorough. You want to use the strongest research to back up your thesis. Everything you include should have a clear connection to your topic and your argument. Presentation A tutor can learn a worrying amount about the quality of your essay simply from how it looks on the page. The lengths of paragraphs; the lengths of sentences; the neatness of the reference list; the balance of length between different sections; all offer insight into the kind of essay they are about to read.
Shorter words are often preferable to longer words, unless there is some specific vocabulary that you need to include to demonstrate your skill. Short to middle length sentences are almost always preferable to longer ones. And over-long paragraphs tend to demonstrate that you are not clear about the specific points you are making. Of course, these are general points, and there may be some occasions, or some subject areas, where long paragraphs are appropriate.
Accurate grammar and spelling are important. Consistently poor grammar or spelling can give the impression of lack of care, and lack of clarity of thought. Careless use of commas can actually change the meaning of a sentence. And inaccurate spelling and poor grammar can make for very irritating reading for the person marking it. This practice is now widely accepted where it makes good sense. It is however possible that some tutors may still prefer not to see it.
Summary of key points The title is the most important guidance you have. The task ahead is nothing more and nothing less than is stated in the title. When in doubt about any aspect of your reading for the essay, or about your writing, the first step is to go back and consult the essay title.
This can be surprisingly helpful. It informs directly: the choice of reading; the structure you choose for the essay; which material to include and exclude; what to do with the material you use; and how to introduce and conclude. A relevant and useful structure to support the presentation of your response to the title is vital.
Expect to undertake an iterative process of planning, reading, drafting, reviewing, planning, reading, re-drafting, and editing.
Editing is a crucial part of the process not an optional extra. References Barass R, Students must write: a guide to better writing in coursework and examinations. London: Methuen. Buckingham: Open University Press. Stott R, The essay writing process. Chapter 3 pp In Making your case: a practical guide to essay writing.
Structure Structure your essay in the most effective way to communicate your ideas and answer the question. The study guide What is critical writing?
A relevant and useful structure to support the presentation of your response to the title is vital. Avoid transition words that don't add anything to the sentence and unnecessary wordiness that detracts from your argument. Always question any evidence you include in your essay; ask yourself, "Does this directly support my thesis? This is a balanced paragraph. Questions to ask of your introduction and conclusion may be useful.
Appetite, 46 3 , Here are the sorts of questions you should ask yourself: You can also look at other checklists such as this one on editing your own work. Always save each draft as a separate file; then you can see how your essay develops and improves.