Whether you’re faced with your first ever assignment essay, or you’re looking for inspiration to improve your grade, we’ll walk you through the process to ensure your essay is a success. Simply follow our trusted assignment format and learn how to improve your essay grades! What is an essay? An essay is a collection of your own ideas about a particular topic. An essay is not a collection of snippets from the source material you have read. Instead, it is a presentation of your own thoughts and ideas on a subject, which uses the source material to support your arguments. Source material may include books, journal articles, reports, etc that you have read. Where Do I Start? Start by reading the question. How Do I Research My Essay? To research a topic and find suitable source material, you need to plan a search strategy. This ensures that you know exactly what you are looking for!
The focus of the essay question – what is the main topic? Your sources – where will you find material? These ideas will help you search through research databases, such as Emerald Insight, EBSCO and Ingenta. Your university will usually give you an athens password so you can access these databases. They contain thousands of journals in all manner of subject areas. More often than not, you’ll find you have far too much material to put in your essay and so you’ll have to filter through it and choose the best. Will this source add value to my essay (for example, by supporting one of my arguments)? Is this source essential for my essay? Will the quality of the essay suffer if I remove it? Do I have any better sources to support my arguments? Is the source a quality source? Avoid using open-source encyclopedias like Wikipedia – you don’t know how reliable the information is.
Are you wondering how many sources/references you need to use in your essay? It is important to ensure you have sufficient sources to support your writing if you are aiming for a good grade. Remember that your tutor could be marking 20, 30 or even 40 papers answering exactly the same question. As perfect as your essay may be, it is difficult to impress without showing an element of originality. Using a good selection of quality sources adds strength to your arguments and the quality of your paper. If you refer to the work of more obscure and controversial writers, you may well spark the interest of the lecturer, provided that such material is well presented and used appropriately. Jones’ 1987 Study, which reached this conclusion’. Strong well supported arguments against an established point of view are also a means of showing originality and thus gaining extra marks. Before you start writing your essay, it is helpful to keep in mind the qualities that your final piece of work should have. To attain a 1st, you need to demonstrate an exceptional level of clarity. You must also show special signs of excellence or originality.
Your presentation should be impeccable and your arguments should be supported so the reader is left in no doubt as to the accuracy of the information. Many students think an essay structure means ‘introduction’ ‘body’ and ‘conclusion’. Whilst this is the very basic structure of an essay, a more detailed plan will help you write well. The introduction is the place to grip your reader, sufficiently impress them and make them want to know more. An introductory paragraph – this may introduce a controversial issue. This is where you prove your case. Remember at all times that you are making an argument, not narrating a story. Use the key words you identified in your search strategy to help you. Make sure that every paragraph in some way refers to those keywords – or it will be irrelevant. Don’t forget that you can never make unsubstantiated claims – everything you say needs to be supported by quality source material. Further, you cannot present an essay that consists of merely one argument.
Second (supporting) paragraph: Are there any weaknesses in the first evidence presented? Third (opposing) paragraph: Present the opposing view, present evidence to support it, and try and disprove your own opinion. Jones says’ with no further analysis. You can quote from material but you need to analyse it – just because so-and-so said something does not make it true. If you are going to use a quote you need to support it with relevant facts or examples, or you will not gain any marks for the material utilised. The conclusion is where you summarise the main findings of your research. Without a conclusion, you will score few – if any – marks. Draw together the components of your arguments and make sure you spell out how any weaknesses have been dealt with. Reaffirm your opinion. Has it been supported in your essay? Does your essay reveal any weaknesses in the opinion?