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How to Write Essays – 4 Easy Essay Writing Tips

f you’ve been consistently struggling with how to write essays, this article will show you four easy steps to writing consistently high quality essays. The main things you need to focus on are the essay subject, the opening paragraph, the overall structure of the essay, and your essay content and analysis. This article also provides links to two excellent resources for essay writing.

1. Picking a Subject for Your Essay

The first step when working out how to write essays is to decide what your subject or theme will be. Knowing the subject of your essay enables you to focus your efforts. You can immerse yourself in finding out all there is to know about a particular topic without any chance of getting distracted.

If possible, pick a subject you are interested in, because this will make writing the essay much easier. Even if you have been given a topic, try and find an ‘angle’ to it that has some interest to you. Good resources for essay material are the internet, written or e-books, journals or even interviews of people versed in your chosen subject.

Once you have found your topic, the next thing to focus on is the structure of your essay.

2. Structuring Your Essay

A vital part of learning how to write essays is to understand the importance of structure. Structure helps the reader to understand where your essay is going and what you are trying to tell them. Think of the structure as a ‘framework’ around which you can build your writing,

Firstly, while researching your topic, write down the main points in dot point form, using only a few words – these will form the main structure for your essay. It doesn’t matter much at this stage what order they are in – you can sort that out later.

Under each main point, jot down 2 or 3 sub points that go into a bit more detail about that particular aspect of your essay.

Once you have this basic structure in place, you can start thinking about how many words to write for each part of your essay.

3. Number of words in your essay

This is a very important aspect of how to write essays. Let’s say you have 2000 words to write for the whole essay and 5 main points, with 2 subpoints for each. Remember that you will also need an introductory and concluding paragraph, so that makes it about 12 paragraphs in total. This means you will need to write about 150-200 words per paragraph or sub point. Once you start to break it down in this way, you can see that learning how to write essays is not overwhelming – all you have to do is write a short piece of text for each of the ideas you are presenting.

Once you have the structure written down in note form, with the number of words for each paragraph, you can start to work on the details of your essay content.

4. Essay Content and Analysis

Look at what you have read for each of the main points of your essay and work out how you can talk about it in your own words, or in a more informative way. Look at your essay research notes and decide for yourself if the writers have made claims which, in your opinion, lack substance. If necessary, compare different claims and write down which of them is more valid, in your opinion, and explain why to your reader. Remember that each paragraph needs to lead into the next. This ‘smooths out’ the structure and helps the essay to ‘flow’ better.

Analysis can be a challenging thing to tackle when you are first starting to learn how to write essays, but it is well worth persevering with because it will make your essays much more worthwhile and readable.

Conclusion

In this article you have seen there are only four steps to writing a great essay. Learning how to write essays is an important part of improving your communication skills. It will be time well spent and there are many tools available to make your task much easier.

How To Succeed at Essay Writing

It’s the moment every parent dreads: when your child sits there, glum-faced, looking at a blank piece of paper in front of them. They have a rapidly-approaching deadline for their essay, and nothing, but nothing you do as a parent seems to help them get any closer to completion. What can you do to help? The answer is: quite a lot.

Producing a successful essay can be one of the most arduous parts of the schooling process, and yet, the need to write an essay is everywhere: from English literature, to economics, to physics, geography, classical studies, music, and history. To succeed, at high school and in tertiary study you must master essay writing.

Getting students over this barrier was one of the reasons I put pen to paper four years ago and produced a book called Write That Essay! At that stage, I was a senior academic at Auckland University and a university examiner. For nearly 20 years, in both course work and examinations, I had counselled everyone from 17-year-old ‘newbies’ to 40-year-old career changers with their essay writing. Often, the difference between a student who might achieve a B-Grade and the A-Grade student was just some well-placed advice and direction.

I then visited over 50 New Zealand High Schools and spoke with over 8000 kiwi kids about essay writing. These students reported exactly the same challenges as I had previously encountered, and more. The result has been two books and a DVD that have helped kids achieve some of the potential that sits inside all of us.

In this article I am going to deal with some things you can do as a parent to help your child succeed at essay writing. Because writing great essays is well within every child’s grasp.

Tips for essay writing success:

1. It’s an argument

Remember that an essay is an argument: the task in an essay is not to write a story or to recount a plot. The teacher knows all of this information. In an essay your child’s job is to present a compelling argument-using specific evidence-for the point they are trying to make.

2. Write a plan: you’ll be pleased that you did

Get your child to write a brief list-plan of the topics that their essay needs to cover. Even a short plan is better than no plan at all, and will start to give the writer a feeling that completing an essay on that topic is well within their grasp.

If your child is a visual learner, move away from the desk and go to a neutral space. Grab a large sheet of blank A3 paper and some coloured pens, and brainstorm a mind map or sketch plan of what the essay should contain. Using pictures, lines, circles, and arrows will all help the visual learner grasp the task at hand and help them see what they have to do.

3. Getting Started

A challenge many kids (and adults) face writing essays is getting started. The person sits there waiting for inspiration to hit them like a lightening bolt and it never happens. What can you as a parent do to help?

Encourage them with the thought that great essays are never written the first time over. Get them to view essay writing as a three-part process. The first draft is only to get out the ideas and words in rough form. In the second and third effort, they will add to their essay where there are blanks, clarify ideas, and give it a final polish. Realising that an essay isn’t supposed to be perfect the first time you write it, really helps some people.

4. Having enough to say

If your child is still stuck, find out if they have read up enough on the topic. Some inertia with writing can be due to lack of knowledge. They will find writing so much easier if they spend another day or two reading more on the topic and gleaning some additional ideas.

5. Try using a neutral sentence

Suggest starting the essay with a neutral sentence: a sentence that merely states an interesting fact on the topic being written about. Here’s one: ‘Mozart was one of the most important Austrian composers of the eighteenth century.’ First sentences in essays don’t need to be stellar – you just need to start!

Now, go write that essay!

Titles available in this series:

Write That Essay! (for tertiary students)

Write That Essay! High School Edition

Write That Essay! High School Edition Box Set (includes book, DVD and worksheets)