There’s just no getting around essay writing in school. It’s a crucial part of the process at all levels, from high school through to the majority of graduate programs. It’s pretty plain to see why. Regardless of your career choice, you will be expected to write effectively, coherently and in a way that generates and maintains interest. So no matter how much you hate the process, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get to work. Yet where to start? It can be a pretty daunting process, but there are some keys to the kingdom here. There’s a structure to academic essay writing, and a process you can work through. Once you get comfortable executing that process, you’ll be able to deviate in interesting ways, and basically write about any subject you could imagine. Here are the steps to take in order to master academic essay writing.
First of all, don’t do anything until you’ve taken the time to analyze the question that has been posed. You’ll basically face two types of essays in the academic environment: explanatory or argumentative. The explanatory essay does just that, explains a topic or a process that comes from being posed a question, and then backing up that explanation with source material. In the argumentative essay you’ll take a position around an issue and then support that position with facts and figures from your sources. They’re different sides of the same coin, but in either case you won’t do very well unless you’ve got a real understanding of the question. If you make a misstep here, you could end up turning in a paper that’s pointed in the wrong direction from the beginning. So if there’s something about the question you don’t understand, ask your teacher. This is absolutely crucial.
Before you start your research or write any of the content that will make your final essay, lay down a plan. The right plan will set you on a path for the essay, help you determine exactly what you need to research, and give you a timeframe for the overall writing process. Do this as soon as you can after the essay has been assigned, so you’ll have all the time you need. The plan can start rough and simple, as it will clarify as you continue the work.
Now it’s time to get started with the research. This could be as simple as reading a couple of articles you find through a Google search, or poring through dozens of books at the library, depending on the extensiveness of the assignment. Start off by organizing all of the research you laid out in your plan, with an idea of how you will tackle it. Lay out each piece of source material as it corresponds to a section of your essay. Then you can get started working through the books, articles and periodicals you need to get the job done. In general, try not to rely on internet sources. There is no process of defining academic standards in that space, so you never really know what you’re getting.
After the research is complete, you should be ready to start the first draft. You’ll need to determine your answer to that main question, and lay out the various points you’ll make. Start it off in outline form, with a bullet for each point. Consider length, and note the references you plan on including. Then write that first draft as quickly as possible. The real work is during the edit. Spend far more time editing the paper than you do writing it, and you’ll know you’re on the right track.