Here are some vital points to keep in mind when you are writing or editing essays or your dissertation:

  • Organization – Organizing the essay correctly is more important than you may think.  Bad signposting can make your meaning difficult for the reader to interpret.  Take some time to plan your essay structure in advance.
  • Buzzwords – Make sure you understand and use vocabulary that is used in your subject.  If your lecturer keeps talking about “revisionism” or “diacritics” make sure you understand what these are and use these themes in relevant essays.
  • Formal language – Use formal, academic language in your essay writing.  Flippant language use will not encourage the reader to take you or your opinions seriously.  Avoid humour, slang, unexplained abbreviations and text terms.
  • Evidence – Back up every statement you make with evidence.  You cannot make claims that are unsubstantiated.  Read through your essay and make yourself prove every statement that you make.
  • Introduction and conclusion. Although there is a school of thought that says that the introduction should say what the essay is going to say and the conclusion should say that you said it, this doesn’t mean that the introduction and conclusion should mirror each other exactly. If you could swap the two around without making much difference to the essay, then you need to do some rethinking and rewriting!  Effective introductions and conclusions require careful work so don’t rush them.
  • Perfect writing! – There should be no grammar, punctuation or spelling mistakes in your work.  The worst spelling mistakes to make would probably be those that are subject matter related.  Take your time to carry out thorough proofreading when you have finished your essay.
  • Read widely – Read widely and read critically before you start any essay.  Spend time on compiling a decent bibliography.  In some colleges the bibliography is marked, so it really does matter.
  • Don’t contradict yourself! – If you have stated an opinion, stick to it!  Imagine a barrister in court arguing for their client and then against them!  That would be nonsensical.  Stay focused on your chosen viewpoint.

Have you nearly finished all your essays for the year?  Are you beginning to work on your dissertation?  Post a comment below with your top tips!