If my title sounds somewhat familiar, you may have already realised that the essay season is fast approaching. Yup, unfortunately university isn’t all about escaping home and having a ‘good one’, deadlines also tend to crop up now and again. The focus on independent study and individual response means that for the majority of students, writing an essay has become little more than a stab in the dark. However, hopefully these tips will ease the pain of those first assignments.
1. Background reading
It’s crucial that you understand the topic you are writing on and have evidence to prove it. Begin your secondary reading whilst you are studying each topic area, this way you can formulate ideas as you go (plus you don’t have the added pressure of reading 67 books before you can actually begin writing!).
You can’t just spout out everything that pops into your head and expect your reader to be able to follow your thought-process. Planning allows you to organise your ideas coherently as well as check you have included everything you need to, from contextual information to close analysis, to get those top marks.
3. Take breaks
Often, there’s a tendency for students to try and ‘bang out’ an essay the night before the deadline. However, writing a couple of paragraphs a day allows you to concentrate on one idea at a time. Writing your essay over a period of time, also gives you the opportunity to go away and think about certain ideas you are not sure how to articulate, rather than having to make a rushed decision.
4. Keep calm
Many people associate stress only with exams, but it’s also very easy to become stressed whilst writing an essay. Usually an extended time in which to gain marks simply means an extended period of stress. The important thing is to remember you wouldn’t be at university writing this essay in the first place if you weren’t good enough. Know you can do it, and let that confidence ooze onto the page.