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12 June 2020

Your Ultimate Guide to: Writing an A+ Essay

To some, writing comes all too naturally, but to most, essays and assignments are a real drag to complete! Whether you love it or dread it, your university life will not be complete without having to write a ton of essays. 

From the weekly assignments or your FYP to your written exams, here are 5 steps to practise when writing an essay.

1. Understanding the Question or Prompt

Before you can start on your A+ worthy essay, you’ll need to properly understand the question or prompt. Keywords like, ‘compare’, ‘analyse’, or ‘discuss’ are important as it will determine how you write your essay. Following the keywords would normally be what you should be researching. Sometimes, there may even be more than one prompt in a question! So remember to highlight keywords and underline points so that you know exactly what to do. 

Here’s how your question could potentially look like after highlighting and underlining the keywords and prompt: 

Discuss the usage of fiscal and monetary policies during an economic crisis

Tip: Find out the meaning of different keywords here.

2. Pick a Topic and Start Your Research!

Typically, you’ll be given a few questions to choose from. Once you’ve read each question carefully and determined what is expected, you’ll be able to choose the topic that you’re most comfortable with.

Why is this important? You’ll be spending a lot of time researching the topic so you might want to choose something that piques your interest and curiosity! Remember to jot down and save any quotes or points that you may want to use from the research that you’ve done.

3. Building Your Scaffold

One more important step before writing!

It’s time to build a scaffold for your essay. This is where you should put in effort to create a good outline. It’ll help you to identify and stick to your thesis statement and topic sentence. 

A thesis statement defines the purpose of your essay, your view on the question, and would include the topic statements elaborated in the essay. This would usually be included in your introduction.

On the other hand, a topic statement is a key idea that the paragraph will be talking about. The topic statement would support the argument made in the thesis statement. Naturally, this would make up the body of your essay. 

Having a scaffold will help organise your points and findings into different paragraphs, making sure that every idea is clearly explained and the points are coherent with what the question is looking for. 

Tip: Find out the difference between a thesis statement and a topic sentence here.

4. Let the Creative Juices Flow

The moment has come to let all your creative, yet critical, juices flow! Remember to use your scaffold  done earlier to guide the flow of your writing and include any research, along with the proper citation and references, that relates to your points.

As you go through your scaffold and elaborate critically on your points, don’t just be descriptive! Critical thinking is how your essay will get that deserving A+ because it will show how you’re engaging and relating the different theories presented to you instead of summarising what others think.

And while you’re doing all the critical thinking, don’t edit your work while writing. You’ll have time for that after!

5. Fine Tuning and Editing

Now, you’re almost done with your essay! It’s time to edit what you have written to make your essay presentable to the marker and the dreaded Turnitin

Here are some simple guidelines to follow and remember while re-reading and editing your essay:

  • Ensure that the strongest points are sitting at the top of your essay.
  • Paraphrase whatever that you may have written directly from your research and only use quotes where necessary but remember to cite either way! 

Tip: Paraphrasing isn’t just about taking out words and finding synonyms for others. You’ll need to remember to summarise what is said while maintaining the intended point by the author. Paraphrasing incorrectly is also a form of plagiarism so make sure you do it correctly.

  • Improve your writing by using clear, concise, and precise language that steers away from the first-person point-of-view. Remember to also keep the essay in the present tense whenever possible.
  • Check the grammar, spelling, punctuation, word count, and citations, making sure that necessary corrections are made. 

 

With your now tidied essay, ask your friends or family to help proofread your essay. It always helps to have an extra pair of eyes to check what you’ve written. If you’re doing this with a friend, make sure you’ve both completed your essay so as to not risk yourselves sharing similar ideas that may lead to plagiarism. 

With these 5 simple steps and these nifty hacks that will help you through your assignments, you’re one step closer to turning your good essay into something greater.

 

Good luck with your next assignment!

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Ailyn Low
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