Writing a compelling academic essay can be a complex process. Learning how to become a better essay writer relies upon a comprehensive understanding of the criteria used in the grading process. Here are 5 tips and techniques that will help you refine your writing process and deliver more polished, engaging and convincing essays.
Spend time developing your thesis
The primary objective of writing any essay is to demonstrate that you have developed a clear thesis through critical engagement with your subject matter. Your thesis is the heart of your essay; the point you are attempting to prove or the statement you want to make. It should be clearly presented and explained in your introduction, supported by material in each paragraph, and deftly summed up in your conclusion.
It is not enough to present an essay that simply repeats material you have read and researched. Remember, rephrasing the thoughts of other scholars will never help you secure a grade at the upper end of the marking scale. Instead, you need to analyse and integrate ideas from several sources, ensuring that you are critically evaluating everything you choose to discuss.
The process of critically evaluating material that scholars have dedicated their entire careers to can feel like an intimidating task. Although you are unlikely to uncover vast flaws, you should be able to identify issues with aspects of their arguments. Try to provide solutions to how it might be possible to address those.
Critique your thought process to enhance your thesis
It is equally important to critically evaluate your own ideas after engaging with your primary and secondary material in depth. This process will help you to make considered and developed points that are always hyper-relevant to your thesis.
While it isn’t necessary to present all sides of an argument, it is important to think about what the most prominent oppositions to your reasoning might be. Write down every possible counterargument and shape some considered responses. This ensures that you are aware of any potential flaws in your thought process. There are limitations to every argument. If you can demonstrate that you have explored those, you will often be rewarded in the marking process.
Construct your essay with care
Thoughtful essays effectively guide readers through a series of points that have been presented in a logical order. Your essay should be constructed so that your introduction flows naturally into the main body paragraphs. Your conclusion should then tie everything together, ensuring your argument doesn’t have any unaddressed lose ends.
When you have completed your essay, review each paragraph and ask yourself a series of key questions. Does each paragraph make a clear point that has been appropriately supported with relevant information? Does your sentence structure deftly convey your argument? Are your paragraphs presented in a logical order with appropriate transitions to ensure the presentation of a seamless thesis?
Provide both style and substance
Presenting your thesis with style will help you to engage your reader and fluently convey your arguments. While a child might use short sentences such as “I like to read,” academic writing should incorporate a variety of different types of sentences and phrases with the inclusion of specific vocabulary relevant to your subject area.
During the editing process, ask yourself whether the structure of your sentences will have an impact on your reader. You should ideally utilise a range of compound and complex sentences. This expresses a clear writing persona that conveys your thesis with clarity.
Focus your reading
It can sometimes be tempting to want to demonstrate as much knowledge as possible. However, it is learning how to focus your reading that will ultimately help you to write a much more effective essay. Your supporting material should always be from scholarly, reputable sources. This proves that you have conducted extensive research to support your thesis. Ideally, however, supporting material should only ever be introduced when it is highly relevant to the point you are making.
Remember, your essays are your opportunity to convey your own ideas. Don’t allow your voice to be overshadowed!