We all had to write essays at school, and most of us know what it should look like and what it should contain. However, essay writing on a university level requires slightly higher knowledge and skills than just simply writing a piece of text. Writing an essay on an academic level that would be appreciated by professors and lecturers, sometimes, may seem intimidating if you do not know much about it. Most students need a little bit of guidance on how to manage this kind of task. Here, some of the most critical points that should be considered when writing an essay.
What is an essay?
An essay at a university level varies between 1500 and 4500 words. As a regular essay, it has a basic structure, which consists of an introduction, main body and a conclusion section. The structure of the essay depends on the subject and specific requirements provided by your course teacher. The introduction section usually presents background information of the subject and a thesis statement of the essay. Most of the time, the main body is divided into several separate sections with subtitles. They provide descriptions of different issues that are related to the subject and support the main thesis statement. The conclusions section sums up the main points of the essay. A well-written essay shows a good understanding of the topic, presents reasoned arguments and contains support evidence from external sources.
Research your topic
In order to demonstrate a good comprehension of the subject, it is necessary to research several related areas that will be mentioned in the essay. Any study materials like course notes, articles and books would be of great help. A course teacher usually provides students with a list of useful sources. Use them. Don’t forget to serve the Internet and look for online study materials. Also, check local libraries and online databases. You do not need to read all source materials you come across. It is enough to read introductions and look through the table of contents. Also, skimming and scanning the text quickly will help you to decide whether a particular source material is relevant. Collect as many suitable materials as possible and study them carefully. You will have to decide which of your findings you will use to support your arguments. Remember that it is not about stuffing your essay with citations, but providing external evidence. While choosing which information sources to use, it is useful to ask yourself questions like ‘is it relevant?’, ‘How is it linked to another information that I have discovered?’, ‘How is it supporting my thesis statement?’ and ‘What else do I need to know?’.
The basic structure of the essay is discussed above, however by ‘structure’ we mean a little bit more than just separate sections. It is very important to have ‘flow’ in you essay and logical coherence of the arguments. The structure of the essay is built of arguments, which are supported by expert opinions, references to other literature and citations, and counter arguments. A task is to implement those in the essay constructively.
Very often, lecturers grade essays based on the required standards. In such cases, assessment form sheets are available. There you can find key questions that your essay should answer and a required format of your paper work. Keeping to these requirements is vital as they are the main determinants of your grade.
A good essay contains critical discussion and evaluation of the found evidence. It is necessary to analyze strengths and weaknesses of the findings and to emphasize what is significant to the topic of the essay. Critical evaluation of evidence needs to include logical discussion and comparison of the theories and arguments used in the essay. A student must state whether he/she agrees or disagrees with the brought arguments and give a clear explanation ‘why.’
Referencing and Bibliography
Credible and trustworthy source materials give weight to you arguments and can be very powerful in persuading the reader. We would advise you to use academic articles, books and credible mass media sources, and avoid unauthorized content on the Internet. Your university should specify the formats of referencing and bibliography listing.