With September and the back to school season on its way, you might be wondering how you can up your essay game and get some better grades this coming school year. Well, you’re in luck because we’ve put together a list eight tips that will help you take your essay writing to the next level. Read on to find out more!
1. Always make a plan
More often than not, making an essay plan is overlooked. If you’re short of time or feeling a little on the lazy side it can be easy to think “ah I just won’t bother making a plan”. However, I can’t stress enough how important it is to make a plan – even if it’s just a brief one! Setting up a plan will help your essays to flow and help you to avoid going off on tangents or having a messy structure. If you’re the kind of person that has all the ideas but struggles to assemble them into an essay, making a plan is crucial.
2. Don’t underestimate the power of PEEA
If you’re from the UK, you have likely had ‘PEEA’ drilled into you throughout high school. However, after you leave high school, do not underestimate how helpful this method actually is! In case you don’t know or you’ve forgotten, ‘PEEA’ stands for ‘point, explanation, evidence, analysis’. Essentially, ‘PEEA’ is a very simple evaluation of how you should structure your paragraphs when writing an essay. The idea is that you make your point that you’re arguing, explain it a little, provide some evidence for it and then analyse the whole point and link it back into the question. This format makes it really easy for the examiner reading your essay to understand and be persuaded by what you’re saying and also shows that you’re definitely answering the question.
3. Be explicit
Don’t ever be vague or just hint at something. Assume that your examiner knows nothing about the topic that you’re discussing and be as clear and explicit about what you’re saying as you possibly can. The worst thing would be for you to make an amazing A+ point in your essay and for the examiner to completely overlook it or not understand it because you didn’t make the point clear enough. Be explicit!
4. Be concise
Remember that quality is always better than quantity. There is absolutely no point in writing five pages of rambling rubbish when you could’ve just written two pages that were extremely concise and to the point. Although you might not necessarily get marked down for rambling or going off on a tangent, it certainly will distract the examiner from the good points that you’re making and might make it seem like you’re not particularly sure what you’re doing. Stick to what is really necessary.
5. Always write and introduction and conclusion
The introduction is the foundation of a good essay and should never be overlooked. You are literally setting out your argument and if you set it out clearly here, that will be in the forefront of the examiner’s mind right from the beginning and help them to think more highly of your entire essay. Conclusions are equally as crucial as they tie the whole essay together and give you the opportunity to explain how all of your points link back to the question. It’s so easy if you’re pressed for time to just decide to forget the conclusion, but even if it is a really short one, you should always write a conclusion. Writing and introduction and conclusion is the first and biggest rule of writing even a basic essay, so if you make the examiner think that you don’t know that, they might seriously penalise you for it.
6. Learn your assessment objectives or criteria
Find out what exactly it is that your examiner will be using to mark your essays, look up or find out from your teacher, tutor or professor what your assessment objectives or criteria are and learn them off by heart so that as you’re writing all of your essays, you constantly have these points in mind and you can literally tailor your entire essay to the criteria. There’s no better way to get a good mark than writing exactly what the examiner is looking for. They have literally handed to you on a plate a list of instructions to get an A+ – don’t underestimate how useful this is!
7. Don’t lose easy marks on spelling & punctuation
For most essays, a small amount of marks will be allocated to spelling and punctuation. These marks should be really easy if your spelling and punctuation is good. So, if you’re not quite so strong in this area, get practising because you really don’t want to miss out on these really easy marks!
8. Always really think about what the question is asking you
When you’re in an exam or you’re trying to get that essay done really quickly so you can go out with your friends, you might just glance at the essay question and assume you know what it’s asking and then find that you haven’t answered the question that is really being asked. Use a highlighter and highlight the key words and just spend a minute or two really considering what is being asked of you. There is no point in writing a fantastic essay if you aren’t answering the question that is being asked.