Three levels of analysis
Any time you use a quote in your essay you should remember to use the three levels on analysis on it. The required length of these levels can vary from professor to professor, but you should always aim for at least one sentence per level.
Level one is paraphrasing the quote itself. Focus on which part of the quote you want to emphasize and what it means to you. This part should only be one sentence, maybe two.
Level two is picking apart the sentence. Focus on a few words and comment on their usage in the sentence and why it’s important.
Level three is how it relates to your argument as a whole. You will find that many people skip from one to three and accidentally ignore level two altogether. It’s a common mistake, but easy enough to fix once you get more practice.
Doing this will allow you to show a deep understanding of your material and your argument, along with getting you to the length you need for the requirements of the essay.
Use resources efficiently
To use resources efficiently, you should only be having one per paragraph and no more than three on a page. If you have more than one in a paragraph then you’re just restating the same fact twice or you’re discussing two different points entirely.
You should also be having more of your words than what the resources say. After all, it’s your paper. Your resources should be backing up your argument. By resources, this includes your primary resource and your secondary resources.
The primary resource is the book that you have been reading for class. Whether it be a textbook or a novel-like book. The secondary resources are articles that look at your primary source in depth.
Read the draft as if you didn’t just research for hours
When you are writing your essay, you subconsciously think that the reader must already know everything that you already left out. And at the college level, you might be right to a point. You don’t need to summarize something that might be common knowledge.
However, if you learned something critical to your argument you should include it in your essay. This includes a very brief background of the point. Especially if you are using theory in your essay.
This is a great rule of thumb for any kind of writing you might do in the future. If you read it through the lens of your audience, and you think there’s something they might need more information on, then put it into the essay.
There are going to be a lot of fascinating facts that you learn as you research that will never be written down in the essay, and that’s okay. You should be picking and choosing the most strong and relevant pieces of information to back your claim.
Prepare an outline
This tip might not work for everyone since every student and writer has their way of writing an essay. But a good way to start an essay for some is to create an outline. In this outline, you will organize your points, quotes, and notes to go with both of them.
I’ve found it useful to gather all potential quotes first, after forming the thesis, and organizing them into the points. By doing it this way, you can keep your quotes where you need them. It also allows room for flexibility should you need to change up the order of your argument.
You can be as detailed or undetailed as you want in your outline since it’s only there as a frame to help you structure your format. It doesn’t have to be in list format either.
Some students work best by using a ven diagram or a spider web style of an outline. You should try and use whatever method is the best for you.
Use resources to check for grammar mistakes
One very useful resource that is free to download and install on Chrome is Grammarly. It has a free option but also a premium option.
In the free option, it will constantly check the grammar, spelling, and clarity in your sentences. The premium option gets you access to suggestions for better word choice, punctuation, compound sentence use, etc.
This is a helpful tool while you’re writing since it catches your mistakes as you go. Although sometimes it makes mistakes itself by not recognizing the Oxford comma in certain spots. It also can’t catch your writing style so if you have a style that bends the rules of conventional grammar, you might end up having a love-hate relationship with it.
Your introduction plays a very important part of the essay. It pulls the reader in and lets them know what the entire essay will be about without saying too much.
Depending on the length of the essay, the introduction should be anywhere between a quarter of a page to three-quarters of the page. It starts with the attention grabber.
Some people like to put a quote at the very beginning, which is what many high schools teach in their English courses. However, as mentioned above, you would need to analyze that quote right away.
Your introduction should be broad at the beginning and then narrow down once you get to the thesis. Just make sure it’s not too broad. It should still relate to whatever you’re about to write about.
Then it should smoothly lead into the thesis: what your paper will be about. The thesis should list the points you will be going into further detail on in the body paragraphs while stating an argumentative claim.
This means there should be room for debate and it’s your job as the writer to persuade the reader to see why your claim is correct. The thesis itself shouldn’t be more than two sentences in length. Right after the thesis should be the transition into your first body paragraph.