Module Eight - Writing an essay
- Writing stages
- Essay structure
- Draft and redraft
- Striking the balance
- Proofread and check
- Test yourself
This module has general advice on how to approach writing an essay.
Essays will help you:
- Develop questioning and critical skills
- Develop skills that allow you to order and evaluate ideas, and formulate questions as you read
- Develop a coherent viewpoint or opinion, which is substantiated or supported through evidence, such as the ideas or research of others
- Learn writing skills in order to express your views with clarity, precision and persuasion
- Read and understand the essay question. Make sure you understand the essay topic and do whatever reading or research is required. Find points or examples that you can use in the essay to illustrate what you are arguing.
- Write the substance of the essay. Put down all your main ideas, including your arguments, your understanding of the theory, examples that match to the theory. You can organise the layout and order of this at a later stage.
- Work on an introduction and conclusion. Once you know what will be in your essay, you can form an introduction and a conclusion.
- Edit your essay. Re-work the body of the essay, making it clear, coherent and logical. Ensure your introduction covers all the main points of the essay, and that your conclusion pulls the essay together.
- Check your referencing. It needs to be correct. It needs to be in APA style.
- Proof read again before submitting your final work. Allow yourself plenty of time to finish your essay and submit it to Turnitin if required by your course.
An essay addresses a question or proposition, and requires a well-argued and careful response. The essay is usually written in a flowing style, from paragraph to paragraph, with few, if any, headings or subheadings.
The structure of the essay
|Introduction||10-15% of word count|
|Body||75-80% of word count|
|Conclusion||5-10% of word count|
|References||Not included in word count|
Draft and redraft
You are ready to write a first draft when you:
In writing the first draft, expand your notes into paragraphs. Get your ideas down on paper rather than at this stage attending to mistakes and sentence construction.
|Tip: What you write at this stage will not necessarily be what the readers see.|
Very few of us can write a flawless first draft!
You should expect to do at least a second draft.
It's good to allow time between drafts for reflection.
The more drafts the better.
Editing involves checking the content of your writing. There are four key areas to think about:
Striking the balance
Use the slider on the see-saw below to view the consequences of the two extremes; what happens when you do not back up any of your ideas with any authoritative sources, and what happens when you use other people's ideas too much.
Proofread and check
Proofreading is the stage of your writing where you are happy with the content and now just need to check for errors. This involves looking at:
Things to look for might include:
Spelling and grammar