How to Write an Essay

All students experience what is described as “student’s block”, so they should not be unduly alarmed if they find that they have an essay to write and they can’t even bring themselves to sit down and begin it. The time will come, nonetheless, when the deadline has to be met and if you have left your preparation to the night before you are hardly going to do either yourselves or the essay justice.

“How to write an essay” is a lot easier than you think… if you pick up the right question, interpret the terms correctly, and follow a few simple procedures. All essays follow the same procedures. You should:

1. Make sure that you understand the essay question completely

2. Gather information that is relevant to the essay topic, and write down rough notes.

3. Make an essay plan by jotting down the order in which you want to present your information and ideas.

4. Write a good essay draft, following correct essay layout and using formal, simple, clear, and concise language.

5. Give references throughout the body of your essay, if you refer to other people’s quotes or findings.

6. Re-check the draft, making final corrections of spelling, grammar, punctuation, and paragraph layout.

7. Ensure that the introduction and conclusion are interesting, and they help guide the reader into and out of your essay.

8. Write the final copy of the essay.

9. Include a bibliography of the entire information sources used in your essay.

10. Finally, re-read the entire essay to check for any final mistakes.

The process of researching, planning, and writing an essay can, and should, be enjoyable. If, presently, the prospect of such an exercise seems either dismal or scary, that is because you have not yet thought hard enough about your own aims in writing an essay. Follow this three-step process:

• First, ask yourself what the question wants to know.

• Second, ask yourself what you know about it.

• Third, ask yourself how you put it into words.

The essence of your essay is the body. It is here that you do your job of showing “to what extent and in what ways,” or of “assessing the validity,” or of “contrasting and comparing,” or of “explaining” and so on. The introduction simply points out the direction your argument will take. The conclusion simply summarizes your argument. What you have to do is write a clear, convincing argument in your essay. Keep in mind that an “argument” is whatever you write to answer the question.