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You must learn to write essays from an excess of knowledge. Go to lectures, read up on the subject in the library, look up the latest academic papers and thoroughly immerse yourself in the essay subject before writing. Without this work to find out the information, you cannot write an essay with authority and command of your essay subject matter. Here are some tips to help you when you gather this information.
Collect more essay information than you will use
Although your research will give you a mass of information, you must use only the information that answers the question set. You will probably collect a hundred facts, read a dozen opinions and review three or four of the most recent academic discussions of the subject. However, to answer the question set, you must cut this information down to the key facts, most pertinent opinions and perhaps refer to only the most relevant discussion papers.
Read primary sources first
If you were writing an essay on the Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, you could not write a good one without first reading the play. Too often, students ignore the primary source of material. If you are writing an essay on Rousseau’s philosophy, there’s no excuse for not reading the original source contract rather than a critique of Rousseau’s writings. Studying the primary sources of information let you assess other information written on the subject.
Structure your essay to help your reader
All documents need a start, a middle and an end. Traditionally, we think of the Introduction, Body and Conclusion as the key parts of an essay. Logically, this helps us set the context for the essay (introduction), present the facts and develop the arguments (body) and summarize the main points or the answer to the question set (conclusion).
Writing an essay Introduction
This introduces the main idea of your essay and draws the reader into the subject. A good introduction gets to the heart of the subject and captures the interest of the reader. It should:
- Summarize the issues to show an understanding of the question.
- Look at the issues raised by the question.
- Outline the main issues you intend presenting.
- Present the method of research or experiment.
- Summarize the essay.
- Answer the question set.
Make your essay introduction factual
Too often, students write a warm-up first paragraph. Phrases such as: The purpose of the essay is to examine the various contributory factors leading to… or In this essay I shall examine the methodology used to assess… usually give little information. Such phrases could introduce any essay and do not present any information. For example:
Writing an essay conclusion
The conclusion draws together the ideas and information presented in the essay. It summarizes or restates the main idea, argument or findings.
The essay conclusion often:
- gives a clear answer or restatement of the answer to the central question,
- summarizes the main points in the essay,
- repeats the key information and arguments, and
- points out what the evidence suggests.
The conclusion is vital. It is the last impression the reader has of the essay. Use it well, making sure your essay doesn’t fizzle out. Make it a strong statement, confidently answering the question, summarizing the position, and reviewing the topic. If you are in doubt what to put in the conclusion, think about the key information or argument the essay has presented and repeat it in a short, direct form.
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