Learn Essay Writing For Free
By the time we get to the tertiary institution level a surprising number of us are convinced that we should know about researching and writing essays.
We’re inclined to argue that if we’ve got this far we should know how to analyse the implications of questions, read efficiently, take notes, plan and structure arguments, use evidence, and write light and interesting prose.
Indeed these skills are the very thing that has got us this far in the first place, so to admit that we could be better at essay writing seems to be an admission that we’re lucky to have got this far.
Instead of seeking help, then, to improve our skills, we settle for the strategy of just learning from our mistakes, or pull ideas together from different sources and synthesis them into a new way of looking at a problem.
If we recognise the significance of the moment, and most of us don’t, then we might be lucky enough to retain a small inkling of what went on in the hope that we, too, might be able to do the same.
But it need not be like this.
The two types of skills that we all need to be successful includes:
- Study skills (reading, note-taking, writing, organisation, and revision).
- Thinking skills (analysis, synthesis, discussion, argument, and use of evidence).
All these can be taught!.
There is nothing mysterious about them. They need not be the exclusive preserve of a few.
And there is nothing particularly difficult about them either.
Indeed, most of us have the abilities to succeed, if only we
can unlock and use them by learning these simple skills.
Learning The Skills
In this post you will learn not just the ”study skills”, but also the “thinking skills” too.
What’s more, you won’t do this alone.
At every step of the way a tutor will be by your side, showing you clear and simple ways of overcoming the most difficult problems.
You choose the essay you want to work on, drawn from the courses you’re taking at your college or university.
You will be taken carefully through each stage of writing the essay from interpreting the question to the research, planning, writing and revision.
In each of these you will be given practice exercises to work on,
along with their answers, with an assignment at the end of each
As you work through each stage you will get practical help right
up until the essay has been completed.
In this way not only will your work improve, but you’ll develop those skills necessary to tackle all your future writing assignments.
Why Write Essays?
If you understand the value of doing something, you normally find you’re more confident and positive about tackling it.
So, what are the reasons for writing essays?
Organize and Develop Ideas
It forces you to organise your thinking and develop your ideas
on the issues.
Writing is the crucial step in the process of learning a subject, in that it helps you to get to grips with the new ideas.
Without this it’s difficult, if not impossible, to know clearly just how well you’ve understood the subject.
It also provides you with the opportunity to get feedback from your tutor, not just on how well you’ve understood the subject, but on how well you’ve communicated this, and where
your strengths and weaknesses are, so you can concentrate your energies more effectively.
If you’ve planned the essay well, so that it’s got a clear structure,
you’ll find that, when it comes to preparing for the final exam, the plan itself is just about the most important revision material you have.
It shows you how you’ve come to understand the topic, and how
you’ve organised the ideas.
As such, it is the one thing that you will be able to recall and use most effectively under timed conditions.
In fact many students who plan well use just these clearly
organised thought patterns as their only revision material.
Writing an essay, then, is a valuable opportunity for learning, which ought to be approached positively.
If you hide behind the text, paraphrasing what you’ve read, without processing those ideas and making them your own, your tutor will rarely see you, your abilities, or problems, and you will never glimpse the extent of your abilities, or just how much you understand.
The Five Stages
For any essay to achieve high marks it’s essential to go through five distinct stages:
- Interpretation of the question
If you omit any of these or just rush them, certain familiar problems will emerge in your writing, such as irrelevance, weak structure, insufficient evidence and examples to support your arguments, lack of fluency between paragraphs, inconsistent arguments, and many others.
It’s also as important to separate each stage, so that you leave, at least a day between each of them.
And of course, it may not always be possible for you to do this.
You may have a number of competing obligations that leave you only a few days to complete the essay.
There are no shortcuts to improving your essay writing skills so here are some few tips.
1. Plan your writing
Begin by thinking about the topic and generating as many ideas as you can.
Use your general knowledge and the information from lectures, tutorials and subject readings.
Have the question in mind and write down all the related issues, theories, arguments and evidence that you are aware of.
This process gives you the start of a writing plan, you should notice a central theme or argument emerging.
It further helps by providing ideas about what you might want to write, including:
- Any ideas triggered by the question
- Questions you need to answer
- Lines of thought, research or argument
- Any evidence that might support possible arguments
- Words you need to define
2. Develop a draft plan
Develop a draft plan to help with your research.
The level of detail of this plan will depend on the question and the knowledge you already have.
Include background information, definitions and any questions you need to answer.
This plan will help you determine the central argument of your essay, organise the information you need to find, and arrange your ideas in a logical order.
You might break a 2,000 word essay into the following parts:
- Introduction (200 words)
- Discussion (400 words) 2-3 paragraphs
- Evaluation of current practice (500 words) 3-4 paragraphs
- Critical analysis of future directions (700 words) 5-6 paragraphs
- Conclusion (200 words)
Breaking the essay into smaller sections makes it more manageable.
If you estimate how many words you might spend on each part, you will get an idea of how much information you need for each section.
3. Structure Your Essay
Your introduction sets the focus of the essay and provides a map for your reader. Whether you write it first or last, you should review it and make any changes that are required.
The introduction should focus a reader’s attention on the central theme of an essay.
Clarify how you intend to interpret or limit the question and give a clear, but brief overview of your argument and the main points supporting it.
You may also need to define key terms in the question.
As you write the body of your essay, you will probably have several open books, photocopied articles, pages of notes (or their electronic equivalent, in endnote for example), and your essay question and plan in front of you.
As you develop each point, refer back to the essay question and
think about how the point you are making both relates to the question and develops your argument.
If its relation is not clear, explain the relevance of your point.
Your conclusion brings together all the different strands of your argument.
The claims you made in your introductory paragraph have now been fully developed and substantiated, so you can reiterate them more assertively.
A conclusion can also explore:
- The significance of your findings
- The implications of your conclusion
- Any limitations of the approach you’ve taken
The conclusion should refer back to the topic and end on a well-reasoned note.
4. Build an argument
The essay argument emerges from and demonstrates your critical reading of relevant texts.
The points you make to support your argument need to be supported with evidence from your reading, and your sources must be properly referenced.
In academic writing, it is not enough to make a valid point; you need to back it up with evidence.
Supporting evidence can come from the ideas of other authors, factual information, statistics, or logical argumentation.
The kind of evidence you use depends on the discipline in which you are writing.
Use quotations that directly support your argument and have something critical to say.
It is best to avoid long quotations (more than four lines of text).
It is better to demonstrate that you understand what the author is saying through paraphrasing and summarising.
The reader is interested in reading your argument, your interpretation and your analysis.
Paragraphs are an important structural element of good writing.
Each paragraph should develop a point or topic.
A paragraph should include a topic sentence, which states the main idea of that paragraph.
It is often the first sentence in the paragraph.
A topic sentence introduces the paragraph’s main idea.
In the rest of the paragraph you elaborate and provide supporting evidence for the idea.
If you have only indicated the issue that is to be addressed and can only draw the main point out after your discussion and examples, the topic sentence will be the last sentence of a paragraph.
Whether it comes first or last, a good topic sentence contains only one idea and sums up what the paragraph is about.
Other sentences expand the topic by giving supporting details, facts, examples and quotations.
Every sentence in a paragraph must be clearly related to the main idea.
The sentences in a paragraph should also be ordered logically.
The length of a paragraph is determined by its complexity and significance to the overall argument.
The main function of the concluding sentence of a paragraph is to draw the information to a logical conclusion and link it to the next paragraph.
Each paragraph should be the next logical step in the
development of your argument.
To make sure this occurs, you need to have thought about the best order for your ideas, and how you will develop your argument.
6. Link Your Ideas
Your ideas can be enhanced through the careful use of transitions.
Transitions are words or phrases that show the connections between ideas or between sentences.
- Addition: additionally, and, also, as well as, furthermore, in addition, moreover.
- Comparison: correspondingly, equally, identically, in comparison, in the same way, likewise, similarly, such as, to illustrate.
- Contrast: alternatively, but, contrarily, conversely, however, in contrast, instead, on the other hand, yet.
- Emphasis: above all, again, certainly, especially, in fact, indeed, most importantly, of course, particularly.
- Concession: although, even though, despite, nevertheless, notwithstanding, whereas, while.
- Cause or effect: as a result, consequently, due to, subsequently, therefore, thus, because, hence, since.
- Concluding or summarising: all in all, in conclusion, in short, finally, in summary, to review, to sum up, on the whole.
- Clarification or restatement: in essence, in other words, namely, that is.
7. Use Evidence to Support Your Argument
Working out where to find information and who to contact for advice is one of the most important skills to learn.
Take the time to become familiar with the University’s information services.
Our university libraries have extensive reference collections.
Library resources will provide you with a grasp on research and concepts used in your field.
Increasingly, journals are available in digital format, and the library has access to an extensive range of these valuable resources.
Use the expertise of the library staff for help with:
- Search strategies
- Getting the most out of databases
- Tracking down information held in other libraries
- Accessing rare and archived material
- Organising information
- Advice on citing sources
The library offers workshops on searching databases effectively, and managing your reference information.
8. Check Your Sentences
As a writer, it’s always important to check your sentences.
It’s a language that expresses a complete idea, which means that it can stand alone and makes sense without reference to another sentence.
It could be a simple sentence, compound sentence or complex sentence. But they all talk about a certain kind of idea with different meanings.
Moreover, look for common errors and mistakes in your sentences such as grammar, choice of words, phrases etc.
You can do all these with prowritingaid.
What’s so good about it?
This writing software helps to check for:
- Grammartical errors
- Spelling mistakes
- Sentence structure
Pros & Cons of Prowritingaid
- More features, not just grammar and vocabulary checks but 20 different in-depth reports to enhance your writing style.
- Over half the price of grammarly and 20% off at this link.
- More private, your data is not stored on the cloud involuntarily on their servers and never shared with third-parties.
- You can also test the fully featured premium app here.
- Not the bleeding edge of grammar checking.
- No support for Firefox, but supports Scrivener.
- Interface not as polished as Grammarly.
- 14-day money-back guarantee
I hope you really enjoyed this article!.
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