Essay writing is required in university for many good reasons. It is one best way how professors can see and evaluate students knowledge, learning and skills in the subject matter. And true enough, students can demonstrate these in doing the task. It can even be that they can learn the subject matter for the first time because of doing the essay. Aside from these, they further learn important virtues and values.
Whatever the case may be, essay writing is not easy. And because it is required, you should learn and develop the skills involved. Here are some specific advice to help youon how to develop essay writing skills.
Academic Writing Style
Essay writing at university is academic writing; it is formal. Avoid clichés, contractions, phrases that sound like speech, subjective descriptions and the like. Use the first person “I” only where appropriate which includes writing up your own experience or professional case study. Where possible use the third person like, for example, “it can be argued…” rather than “I think…”
Use plain language. There is no need for you to search for more “academic-sounding” words, especially when simple words are sufficient. Clear and accurate expression of ideas are what markers are looking for. Jargon and confusing language will not make them give you additional marks. It is better to write shorter sentences because they are usually clearer compared to long complex ones.
However, see to it that you convey a complete idea. Always write a whole or complete sentence and not a clause or phrase. Further, you should also see to it that your shorter sentences are not too simple. If two or three consecutive sentences are too short, you can take a look at combining them all or two.
Integrating Evidence and Your Own Ideas
Your goal in essay writing is to answer the question or give your opinion on a topic or issue. This answer or opinion is your argument and it should be derived from a process of finding out and developing. It should come from reason. It should be a reasoned statement which is derived from the process of research.
Developing an Understanding
To be able to come up with a reasoned answer, you should research and develop an understanding about the topic or matter. Do this by gathering the reasoned opinions of authors and other support like historical and statistical evidences. In selecting and interpreting such supports or evidences, you need to use your own thinking or independent judgement and critical thinking.
Demonstrating Your Independent Thinking
Later when you finally start writing a draft of your essay, you will further use anddemonstrate such independent thinking. This is when you describe how you have selected and interpreted the evidences and explain why they lead to an answer to the essay question or your reasoned opinion on the topic or issue. Evidences come in different kinds and the type you will use will depend on what is suitable for your subject and what the essay question is asking you to do.
Developing the Thesis Statement
From the evidences you have gathered, select the ones which you believe in and can support among one another. Usually, you will need to trim down to three major supporting points from which you can derive or develop your main argument or thesis statement.
Developing and Raising a Point
For example, you can develop a point by matching a theory you have taken note of in your evidence gathering to a specific example in real life. Theories and real life examples are kinds of evidences. After developing the point, you will raise it. In doing this, you simply do the reverse. First, you raise the point, then you present the theory and real life example as evidences to support your point.
Here is an illustration of how you can present your point and its support:
(1.) Introduce your point in your own words. (2.) State the evidence that supports the point. It could be a quoted or paraphrased evidence that needs to be referenced. (3.) Explain how and why the evidence supports your point and say what you think of it or your own interpretation and critical thinking about it. (4.) Explain how the point helps answer the question. This is your own argument.