schoolAtoZ for these great tips
for parents, teachers and students about writing essays. Many students get anxious about how to
approach an essay, but these ten tips will make it a logical
and simple process.
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1. Examine the essay question
o Highlight key words.
o Use the dictionary to check the
meaning of any unfamiliar words.
o Identify the task words that
indicate what needs to be done, eg ‘discuss', ‘explain', ‘compare'.
o Identify the topic words that
indicate the particular subject of the essay, eg the character of ‘Juliet' in
Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, the ‘causes' of World War 1.
o Identify any limiting words that
restrict the discussion to a particular area, eg in ‘Chapters 1-3', during the
2. Finalize any necessary reading or
research as background to the essay
o Be selective: use sources which
are relevant and accessible.
o Write notes in your own words.
o Write down quotations that may be
particularly useful, but ensure the source of these quotes is acknowledged if
o Take note of sources so they can
be provided in footnotes and the bibliography.
3. Brainstorm your ideas in response
to the question
o Jot down any relevant points.
o Make note of any relevant
evidence or quotes that come to mind.
o Use a mind map to help stimulate
4. Construct a thesis
(idea/argument) that encapsulates the response to the question
o The thesis should be a statement
that strongly expresses the overall response to the question.
o Avoid a thesis that's too
simplistic – show thought has been put into some of the complexities behind the
o The thesis is the backbone of the
essay – it will be stated in the introduction. It also needs to be referred to
several times in the essay before restating it and demonstrating how it has
been proven in the conclusion.
5. Write a plan for the response
o Order ideas in a logical
o Make sure every point in the plan
is relevant to the question.
o After the plan has been written
it should be clear where the essay is going.
6. Write the introduction
o Open up the discussion.
o Introduce the thesis.
o Indicate how the questions will
o Name any texts to be discussed,
o Engage the reader.
7. Write the main body of the essay
o Ensure each point is given a new
o Use words or phrases at the start
of each paragraph that will indicate to the reader how it relates to the
previous paragraph, eg, 'however', ‘in addition', ‘nevertheless', ‘moreover'.
o Start each paragraph with a topic
sentence that clearly links the paragraph to the rest of the essay, eg "A
striking example of Gary Crew's use of light and darkness imagery to suggest
notions of knowledge and ignorance occurs in the scene on the jetty".
o Provide supporting evidence for
each point that you make.
o Revisit the thesis, and express
it in different ways if possible, to emphasise how the question is being
8. Write your essay conclusion
o Summarise the main ideas.
o Demonstrate how you have proven
o Finish with an interesting or
thought-provoking, but relevant, comment.
9. Edit the draft
o Check for spelling, punctuation
o Delete any sections that are not
o Change vocabulary to improve
o Seek feedback from peers or a
teacher before writing the final copy.
Write the final copy
o Add any footnotes or bibliography
o Present a clean, neat copy.
o Submit on time.