Getting started with essay writing
Listen to these students' approaches to writing essays
1. Analyse the question
The key to analysing the question is to:
- identify the PROCESS -check out the process word used in the essay question, topic or title e.g. Discuss, Explain, Evaluate, Justify
- identify the TOPIC - the main idea, concept or phenomenon you will write about e.g: Compare and contrast two equipment testing techniques ...Describe the development of HTML ...Discuss British Imperialism in South Asia
- identify the LIMITS - if your question is:‘Discuss British Imperialism in the South Asia up to World War II.’, don't write about anything after World War II. That’s your limit.
‘Evaluate James Smith’s essay writing strategies in the context of the British university system.’
- What’s the process?
- What’s the topic?
- And what are the limits?
- Your process is to evaluate.
- The topic is essay writing strategies, specifically those put forward by ‘William Doig’.
- Your limits are to evaluate the effectiveness of essay writing strategies within the ‘British university system’ only. It would be a waste of time to refer to school systems or education in any other country.
2. Check the marking criteria
Ask your lecturer or tutor for a set of marking criteria that shows how marks are awarded for your paper and what your tutor is looking for.The criteria may give you a way to kick-start your writing.
Ask your tutor for essay writing guidelines as well. Your school should have a description of their expected standard format for essays. For example, what font size should you use; do you need a cover page?
Practice analysing questions with past exam papers available from your Unit Resources on MyCourse.
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