Essay Writing 101

By Cherie Fung

The time has come for major essays to descend into your life and eat away at all your free time! But did you know that essay writing can be made easier, more manageable and less stressful? Essays are a common form of assessment in Arts, so working out a strategy for tackling them will serve you well for the rest of your degree. Here are some tips to get you started:

Read your Unit Guide

Getting into the habit of reading your Unit Guide will make sure that you know what you’re getting yourself into, what to expect and most importantly know what assessments are coming up. Your Unit Guide should contain details about your essay, the marking criteria and the DUE DATE! Make note of this so you don’t wake up the morning of and realise you have an essay due in 2 hours (it does happen!).

Start thinking about the topic early

While you might not have covered all the content needed to write an entire essay, it’s always good to take a look at all the essay topic(s) early. Keep them in mind while going through the unit and make a note of anything you think might be relevant.

Start early

Starting early gives you time to plan what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say it. With more time you will be able to make complex arguments supported by good resources and to review what you’ve written, and therefore get better marks! Starting early doesn’t mean you have to start writing early; you can use the time to plan, find resources and gain some background knowledge.

Use a range of resources and the Library

While using the material from your lectures and readings is important for ensuring that your essay remains on track, using extra resources from a range of different sources (e.g. journal articles, other textbooks, relevant statistics) will make your essay stand out. If you need help with finding resources, the library is always a good place to start.

Be prepared for referencing

Referencing is serious business in University! As you go through resources, make sure you keep a note of what you’ve used because you don’t want to spend hours trying to find something you used a few weeks back. Also make time to ensure you’re using the relevant referencing guides, and if you’re unsure you can always ask the librarians to clear up referencing questions!

Armed with these new tips, hopefully you will all breeze through this semester’s major essay season and the many more to come!

Good Luck!