From the time we pick up a pencil and begin forming words on paper, a heavy rotation of essay assignments are present for almost every class during school years. Starting off small with book reports, the ball doesn’t really get rolling until college; even most university applications require a writing sample, usually in the form or a narrative essay. There’s a reason so much of our education is dependent on the essays we turn in; we’re learning more than just how to structure sentences, we’re learning valuable life skills as well.
When we are looking to freshen up your essay skills, whatever your writing level may be, it is always prudent to simply review the assignment requirements. Knowing deadlines, due dates, and piece expectations are usually enough to begin prioritizing your own time. Pacing yourself during essay development is important, but oft-forgotten, piece of the puzzle.
- Check-in with essay guidelines on the assignment or syllabus; you may be surprised what valuable information you can find.
- Set up a timeline for your work and pace yourself with writing.
- Proofread at frequent intervals; don’t save proofreading only for the end.
Once you’ve settled into your own personal deadlines, the real work can begin. Regardless of the style of essay, the assignment calls for, at least some research will have to take place. Choosing the right sources can feel a bit like trial and error and it is true that it takes time to identify what a reliable source looks like. When researching a topic, ask yourself:
- Does this author cite their sources? If so, where are they coming from?
- Is this author presenting a neutral, objective point of view on a topic, or is their tone leaning in one particular direction?
- How recently was this author’s particular work published? In the last five years is best.
- Was this work published in a peer-reviewed journal or buy a reputable institution?
From here, the essay begins to take shape. Taking notes from the work of your chosen sources in your own words will help avoid accidental plagiarism down the line and save you a lot of headaches. As you read and review sources, make note of terms to look up or questions for further research. Putting your own flavor on content is necessary, but be sure to report the source’s content as truthfully and accurately as possible.
- Review notes frequently, looking out for possible connections and correlations.
- Understand that most very author has bias; identifying the biases in your sources can help paint a clearer picture of the content itself.
- Do not forget to consider opposing viewpoints; though you may not agree, this is a good place to further your own research.
From paragraph indentations to citing sources, the process of writing essays is with us nearly every step of the way in our educational career. Feeling a little rusty on the finer details of essay development comes with growing up, but the skills we learn along way should last us into or professional lives. Take a look at this infographic for more on how to write an essay like a Ph.D., how it can promote your communication skills, make your work stand out, and even land that dream job.
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