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09/04/2019

How to write an essay?

QUESTION
How to write an essay?
I need some writing tips…

ANSWER
Writing papers is perhaps the hardest and most important thing you have to do in college. Writing is hard because it requires work, understanding and thinking. It requires research, clear language and discipline. Essays often weigh heavily in grades and sometimes are required to get into schools or programs. Writing ability is critical to success in school and your future career.

You’ve heard this a million times, but it can be too easy to let time slip away when you must juggle class assignments, work and party time. But starting early can mean simply thinking through and budgeting your time. If there is reading and research involved, then the sooner the better. Starting early will also help you deal with unforeseen problems like difficulty obtaining the required research materials or coming down with the flu just before the paper is due. Starting early helps not only to get through the work, but also to let the ideas steep into your brain.

If the paper topic is assigned, it is important to clearly understand the assignment. Analyze the topic word by word to understand the requirements and scope of work. You might want to underline key words in the assignment and think about how they relate to the reading and/or lectures. Figure out whether you must interpret or simply state the facts. If in doubt, ask other students or the professor for clarification.

Not only do you have to read the materials but also you have to clearly organize the information that you are using from other sources. Start by highlighting key points and making notes of these points. As you gather these materials your thoughts should solidify. Think about how you would string this information together in a cohesive flow. Allow yourself to refine or change your approach as you amass the materials. At this point you can further organize your thoughts into an outline format. Even if your paper does not involve research you still should take time to organize your thoughts on paper.

If you are confused about writing essays or how to approach the subject matter look for examples. Read other essays to help you understand how to organize and present the information. Look at how the author introduces the topic, develops the idea and provides a clear conclusion. Is there a logical approach to the paper? Does it flow like a conversation or a good lecture? How does the writer make the topic interesting? Is the language and style consistent or does seem to jump around? Later when you are reviewing your work, ask the same questions. Compare the effectiveness of your approach. You may want to look at papers with similar subject matter to be sure you are writing to standards of that particular field.

Keep track of any quotes or citations. Do not copy other people’s work in any way without the proper citations. Do not simply take someone else’s work and change a few words around. This is cheating and you might get caught. We have heard hundreds of stories about people submitting some obscure paper as their own, only to find out that the professor read that work years ago and remembers it. Also remember that there is computer software that can turn-up plagiarism too. So if you use somebody else’s words or ideas you must properly site them as a source.

Don’t worry too much about the introduction or conclusion. Focus on getting your ideas on paper. Double check to be sure that you get all the material on the page in some form. Write in your own voice, as you would talk to a friend. Write this knowing that you will have time to review and rewrite. If you are prone to rambling or poor grammar, you will need the time to review and rewrite.

Think about whether you need to rearrange the structure. If you are an experienced writer you may be able to skip a step here. If you reorganize by cut and paste, be sure to integrate the merged sentences to flow. And look at the overall flow of ideas and words. After you have a draft or two, revisit your introduction and conclusion. Does your introduction set-up the subject and the content? Does your conclusion clearly summarize what you have presented without brining-up new ideas? Does your essay make all of the points you set out to make? Does one idea flow to another? Does the language sound natural? If you are not sure your ideas are flowing, try reading out loud. As you write more papers, your writing will begin to flow better. Continue rewriting and refining your words in as much time as you have.

Writing concisely and clearly forces you to think more clearly. Since language is a tool to express thought, sloppy use of language may imply sloppy thinking. To make every word count, write active sentences with active verbs. But at the same time communicate with a consistent tone. Look-up words that you are unsure about so that you don’t undermine your paper with one glaringly wrong word. Take a printout of your paper and begin to cross-out words that are not needed. You may be surprised at