Written By Sara Manni
ESSAY TUTORIAL: Step-by-Step Essay Writing Guide by a Normal Student
Published: February 14, 2017
ESSAY TUTORIAL: HOW TO WRITE AN ESSAY STEP BY STEP
Essay writing guide by a normal student
Now, especially if you come from a country that does not follow the UK or American educational system, you will find yourself lost in the doubts of existence when the time will come… Yes I am talking about essay deadlines. Today I came to the library with the intention of writing an essay. I am not in the mood for it, so I thought, why not writing a guide about how to write an essay?
OK so what are those bloody essays? They are not summaries, they are not sages. What I like to say is that they are little thesis. You need to do loads of research, construct an argument that ANSWER THE ESSAY QUESTION and GO AHEAD. The very important thing that you need to remember is that YOU CANNOT SAY ANYTHING BY YOUR OWN. This might sound slightly silly at the beginning but, especially as undergraduate student, you have absolutely no power to construct an argument 100% by your-self. Whatever you will write or even only thing derives from something you read, heard, watched somewhere. Thereby, you need to cite it. You need to cite whatever claim or empirical example you will include otherwise you will fall in plagiarism. Second, especially if you decide to start way in advance you will spend days and days and days reading about EVERYTHING, keeping on changing the essay question you want to do or simply your argument. Well babe, TIME TO WRITE. I don’t deny that you might derive a certain pleasure by keep on reading and reading but beyond a certain level you will start getting confused and lose the point of your essay. This is, I believe, why sometimes you end up getting better marks in essays you prepared in less than a week than in master-pieces (that is what you think) that you had been writing in more or less a month. Last, remember, we all have DIFFERENT BRAINS. So don’t get into panic if your course-mate has already reached its conclusion five days before the deadline. I, for example, work extremely well under pressure and always get the best illuminations on the last available day. Under deadlines I can produce 800 words per day, in normal times no ways I can do it. Hence, just do what you think is right for you!
Having said this little story about essays, I thought it might useful for those of view which just entered the UK system, to share the method I use to write essays. If you have some better advises or other ways to do it, please feel free to leave a comment!!! It will be highly appreciated.
ESSAY WRITING STEP BY STEP
1. CHOOSE your question. Choose what you like not what you think will be cool to do. If you like the question you will kinda enjoy writing and the finished product will leave you with far more satisfaction. Check how much time you have. If it is not much, go for an easier question or a question about which you already know some stuff form other courses.
2. READ, but not too much. Do really well your core readings and pick a couple of further readings from you reading list. Done that, you should at least have a clear answer to the essay question. Write it down. Write down a clear and well-constructed sentence which answers to the question and summarises the whole point of your essay. That will be your THESIS STATEMENT, and needs to be included in your introduction. One of professors once told me that it needs to be so understandable that if you meet someone in a pub asking you that essay question you need to be able to make him understand your point just with your thesis statement.
3. RESEARCH. Now you have a thesis and a couple of ideas and you know where you are heading to. Start the real research. Use your reading list and the bibliography on your readings. Find journal articles, web pages, books. Read. Don’t crack your head inside every single piece, sometimes you will not need more than the introductions and conclusions.
4. SAVE YOUR RESEARCH. Practically, each time you have a reading save the sentences, paragraph you will need for your essay. Copy-paste them in a Microsoft Word file and CITE THEM EACH TIME. Some people have the crazy habit to leave it at the end. BAD IDEA. You will then need to spend a day trying to find where and who said what.
5. So CITE. Microsoft Words have an incredible system for references. Each time you have something new go to References Manage Sources New… complete the fields in the window and there you go, that reference will be in your Microsoft account forever. When then you copy-paste a sentence go to References Insert Citation your list of references will appear Pick your reference automatically an in-text citation will appear into brackets right click on that Edit citation add the page number. If you consistently do that you will have all your materials cited and avoid a stressful afternoon looking for references.
6. ORGANISE. Now you have a Word file with an abundant quantity of materials. You read a lot so it shall be clear on your mind what do you want to say and how. Write on a scratch book an essay plan, giving subtitles to each of your paragraph. Write the list of subtitles on the Word file and move all the materials you found under the right paragraph. All your sources shall now be organized so you are absolutely free to start writing!
7. WRITE. Start form the introduction. 95% you will change at the end of your work but that will help you a lot to not lose your path. You already have a thesis statement that might sound like “this essay will argue that BLABLABLABLALBLALA”. Now you need to give a structure, so something like: “In order to do so, this paper will first, xxx, second xxx, third xxx”. Here you basically explain your essay outline by following your subtitles. You might want to add a quote or some cool introductory sentences at the very beginning. Good, your introduction is done. You at least will now have 300 words, not too bad
8. PARAGRAPHS. Now you have all your materials and can start writing your actual paragraphs. Sometimes it might be necessary to include at the beginning a paragraph describing key terms you will use in your paper or describing the context you are working in. The others are free. Use your materials. Rephrase the quotes you have, order them, link them together. You need your paragraph to be clear and straightforward. It is always useful at the very beginning or end to write a sentence that links your paragraph to the previous-next one and have a sentence that explains the whole point of the section (another mini thesis statement). Put your points into order, things like “first, second, third” are much appreciated. If after you read it you think your paragraph “gets lost” try to create a sentence that brings up the main point together and links it to the major essay thesis statement.
9. WRITING TECHNIQUE. Writing, if English is not your first language, might me horrendous. Thanks God we have to write in academic English. Academic English is basically the most simple, straightforward, plain way to write in English. You need to produce simple, clear and hopefully not too long sentences. Link them together with liking words and you are done. Using an online thesaurus is always a good idea, but, what I find most useful is the Manchester Academic Phrasebank. In this amazing webpage you will find all the type of sentences you will need to use in your essay. In my first year it was my Bible: http://www.phrasebank.manchester.ac.uk/
10. CONCLUDE. Now you will super happy because you already have 2500 words and you just have to write your conclusion. This is the simplest thing to do but remember: it can change the whole trend of you essay. Therefore, spend some time on it. Your conclusion shall include a short summary of your essay, basically an explanation of how you sustained your argument, a repetition, more in details, of your thesis statement and further relevant observations or open questions to leave your reader with. Here you could let your poetic/philosophical side explode! A nice well-known quote always fix well in here! – ALMOST DONE!
11. PROOFREADING. Yes, yes, yes you need to proofread your essay because it will be full of grammatical and spelling mistakes that the spelling checker can’t get (like “where” instead of “were”) or sentences that make sense only to you. You can do it your-self but TRUST ME, ask to a friend to do it. Even if his literacy level is far below yours he will find stuff you did not see for sure. Not many of your friends will be happy to do it but you can always praise them offering a pint, well spent 4 quits, trust me!
12. LAST LAST LAST. LAYOUT. You essay is amazing and you want your reader’s eyes to enjoy it as well. Create a nice and clear layout, justify your text and make sure that the division between paragraphs is clear. Don’t forget to include your bibliography. Word will automatically do it. Just go to References Bibliography and pick the style you like. Double check it again. YOU ARE DONE
13. SUBMIT. Give your file a nice name which includes your student number. Submit it on Moodle and yoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo. DONE!
ALL DONE. I hope you enjoyed this post and found it useful. I honestly would have loved to find something like this online on my first year. Please leave a comment if you want to add or ask anything. Next time I will be talking about travelling, hopefully.
Good luck with your essay