How to write a smashing essay
Do you like writing your essays? I thought so. Most students dread this task, as they dread any test – writing or otherwise. I know, I’ve been there. When someone assesses your work, your skills, anything to do with you, you feel under a microscope. You will have to write an admission essay, for scholarships, contests, to say nothing about the tons of them for your classes. Seriously, you will have to write A LOT.
Want to learn to stop worrying and love academic writing? Want to be like those lucky ones who relish an opportunity to write an essay and construct interesting arguments? Read on!
Why in matters
First things first. Why do you think they make you write essays anyway? Nope, not because they hate you and want to make your life miserable. At least, not all of them. I never did that to my students. Instead, I wanted to know more about:
- Their knowledge. This is especially true for humanities, but for any subject writing a paper is a crucial part of learning process. It helps students to revise and put in order everything they have learned. It challenges them to see what knowledge they lack. It provides teachers with valuable insight on how to help you learn better.
- Their ability to absorb and analyze information from different sources. Students put their comprehension to the test looking for relevant quotes, finding the distinction between helpful and useless bits of information, deciding are sources like paperhelp scam or are they in fact useful.
- Their ability to write a coherent argument, considering multiple points of view. Students prove they can ground their beliefs – this is an ultimate test of their critical thinking.
So, what do you have to put in your essay to upgrade it from “good" to “brilliant"?
You should demonstrate a solid knowledge of facts and issues that are being discussed. However, do not simply list them. Think, why these concepts matter? What are other points of view? Are they valid? Should they be prevalent? Why not? What if they do? You should know where you stand and deploy relevant facts to support your position. Do not be afraid to use quotes to back up your statements or to illustrate opposing views. This will show that you are well-versed with the sources.
It does not mean you should reinvent things. It is almost impossible to look at a topic at a fresh angle if the topic is centuries old and everyone already discussed it from all possible points. However, try to go beyond obvious. Introduce new evidence; come up with an alternative hypothesis, other than that discussed in the class. Do not try to guess what your teacher thinks and ship it. It would not work. It is not a test where only one answer is right. As I already mentioned, your ability to think independently is what’s being evaluated.
The classic structure consists of three parts: the introduction, the body, and the conclusion. You do not necessarily have to write them in this particular order. For example, you can leave the introduction for the later, when the main body is ready. However, make sure all three parts are there when you hand in your finished work.
The introduction should attract reader’s attention. Use rhetoric question (as I did in this post) or some other attention grabber. It can be an intriguing statement, shocking information, a quote or a personal story. Be creative. Also, in the introduction, you bring your thesis statement forward. It consists of two parts: the topic itself and your opinion of it.
Writing the body of your essay is the most time-consuming part. It helps to make the outline of all your ideas first, leaving some space under each of them. Then, elaborate on each idea, supporting it with facts and filling all the details.
Later, you can rearrange the paragraphs, as you see fit. Put the most important things first or save them for the later to make your essay a powerful crescendo of an argument. However, make sure the paragraphs follow each other logically, without jumping from one topic to another.
In the conclusion, you weigh the evidence, sum it up and give your final opinion. Be specific, there is no place for ambiguity in the conclusion.
Read your work aloud. An exceptional essay flows effortlessly. Sentences are clear and short – one does not have to reread to understand.
This should go without saying. Proofread and then proofread again. Careless typos suggest that you do not care about your readers. Bad spelling and grammar undermine your stance of a competent expert.
If you are not sure of your own grammatical prowess, use one of the online tools or built-in automatic spellcheckers.