Essay Writing Tips – Get an A* or 1st First Time


Read the question carefully. It might be obvious but this is a crucial point that so many students end up failing on.

Make sure you read every single word of the question & understand exactly what it is asking. Breaking down the question to make it simpler.

“When my students ask me about essay writing, there are three main pieces of advice that I give them. One, answer the question. Two, answer the question. Three, answer the question.” Crème and Lea, 1997.

Brainstorm all of your ideas. Brainstorm your ideas in connection with the question or title. Put all your ideas down on paper – you can sift through this later and don’t worry if you have conflicting ideas- you don’t need to decide your angle right now.

Begin writing, even if your ideas are not fully formed – you will find out your knowledge gaps as you go along – your essay will be edited later on so your words are not final.

As part of your research analyse other well written pieces of work. Keep in mind the essay question & keep a list of references as go along.

Establish a structure. Underpinning your argument will help to define the structure of the essay. How you decide to present & back up your argument will influence how you structure your essay.

You could decide to use chronological or comparative structure to your argument or you could go for a fluid structure to give yourself flexibility.

Keep to your word count. Word count usually needs to be adhered to within a +/- 10% boundary. Failure to meet the required word count can cost you marks. Keep concise and never use “empty” fillers to increase word count.

Plan your time – you need to make sure that you have enough time left over at the end to edit your document, check grammar and fully proofread.

Your conclusion needs to summarise exactly what you have concluded from your research. Short paragraphs on how you approached analysed & concluded your data.

Be critical on yourself. Edit & read-through your final draft – is your argument clear? Do you have enough evidence? Is your argument balanced? Have you included any limitations?

Take a break. Before you complete your final editing of your essay you need to take a break – return to your last read through with fresh eyes – allowing you to pick up on any mishaps.