- Be organised
Getting organised is a huge help. Buy an academic diary so that you can keep track of when your essays are due in. It can also be helpful to make a large study timetable to keep on your wall; this will allow you to plot each day and make it clear what you need to be doing at any time.
- Start work early
Don’t be that student who likes to write essays at the last minute. Instead, start work on each assignment as soon as you can. This avoids the panic of not being able to access books you need. Also, if you leave assignments until just before they’re due, you won’t do your best work.
- Always strive to improve your writing
You should aim to constantly refine your writing and researching skills. There are plenty of free websites and even courses online. If English is not your first language, check whether your university offers any additional language classes for overseas students.
- Don’t waste words
While you should aim to get close to your word limit, and be neither too far over or under, each of those words should count. Don’t waffle on just to fill the pages. Your tutor doesn’t want to read obvious filler content. If you’re coming up short of the word count, see where you could add additional material that’s relevant to the question.
- Do all the reading
Reading lists can be very long, but don’t be tempted to ignore books that are required reading. It will be obvious if you’ve skipped essential texts. The art of speed reading can be a useful one, but train yourself to scan quickly for relevant information.
- Use an essay writing service
Some students use an essay writing service if they’re struggling. These can be useful, but never present someone else’s work as your own. Use them instead to provide you with sample essays, or to understand how to approach a topic.
- Check everything
Before submitting any essays, check them twice. You’ll miss mistakes the first time, however carefully you think you’ve read the paper. Look at grammar, spelling, and of course facts. Also be sure you’ve formatted it as your uni requires, and properly cited all sources.Essay writing companies also provide editing and proofreading services if you are not confident in your work.
- Be prepared to rewrite essays
No essay will flow perfectly the first time you sit at your computer. You’ll always find things you’re not happy with, and may even decide that it needs a complete rewrite. Or you could find additional material that you want to include. So make sure you allow enough time for a substantial rewrite.
- Learn from other people
A good way of learning how to write better essays is by reading other people’s. Look at what you like and dislike about their essays, such as how well they argue their points. Ask other students if they’d be willing to swap essays with you, or read opinion pieces in quality newspapers.
- Use vocabulary wisely
Using a variety of words will help improve your writing, but don’t try to be too clever. You can come across as affected if you use a complicated word where a simple one would be perfectly adequate. Also cut out words if they don’t have any real purpose in the sentence; for example, adverbs are often regarded as unnecessary.
- Use primary sources
While you should be aware of what people have written on your topic, this is no substitute for using primary sources, written by people who directly witnessed events or who lived at the time. These will offer a far more accurate depiction than sources written perhaps many years after the events. However, you should still question how reliable primary sources are, and bear in mind that they may have a bias.
- Write an essay plan
Do you think writing an essay plan is a waste of time? If you don’t write one, your essay could end up disjointed and using arguments that don’t make sense. You may also find that you just don’t know what to write about. So, organise your ideas before beginning work on your essay.
- Find your own sources
You’ll probably be given a reading list for your course, and suggested texts for each essay. However, you shouldn’t just stick to those books, as you’ll be competing with other students for availability and could also end up writing very similar content to them. Look for additional sources that could be useful, such as journals, dissertations, and other books.
- Note and Citations
When taking notes, always write down the source of the material, including page numbers. It will save you so much time if you want to look at a source again. Also, always properly cite your sources, so that it is clear when you are using ideas from other people.
- Online sources
Be very wary of using online sources, as they are often unreliable. Never be tempted to cite Wikipedia as a source, for example – it does happen! However, that does not mean you can’t use online sources. Stick to using trustworthy sites, such as online journals. It can also be worthwhile to follow through any sources cited by an online page, as they may lead to useful material.
Essay writing becomes easier with practice. Apply the essay writing tips above each time you write a paper and you’ll see progressive improvement.