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Essays Writing For Guide for Dummies

Essays Writing For Guide for Dummies

Basic Steps in Essay Writing

Step 1: Select the question

  • Choose one that interests you and one with which you have some background information/knowledge.

Step 2: Question the question

  • Highlight any instructional words, eg. discuss, comment.
  • Highlight the key words.
  • Brainstorm using target questions.
  • Identify the issues.

Step 3: Construct an initial plan

  • Create a mind-map.
  • Decide your themes and the order of your themes.

Step 4: Find relevant sources of information

  • Find the answers to your questions.
  • Write the answers on separate pieces of paper.
  • Remember to record your references.

Step 5: Think critically to sort out:

  • Personal points of view/own opinions.
  • Assumptions
  • Evidence
  • Irrelevant details
  • Personal anecdotes
  • Illustrations/examples
  • Ideas – general, very important, potentially useful, only good
  • Useful quotations
  • Specific reference
  • Expert’s point of view

Step 6: Make an essay plan

  • Your time eg – when is your essay due?
  • Plan the order of your themes/ paragraphs.
  • Put these on separate pieces of paper.

Step 7: Write First Draft

First drafts are working drafts and different processes can work for different people. If you like, the way you work and if you achieve the results you want, stay with it. Following are some suggestions from successful students:

  • Write conclusions first (the answer in a nut shell).
  • Write what you know about – do not worry about logical sequence.
  • One long burst of effort may be more productive than several shorter ones.
  • Write on every second line or down half a page (or use 1.5 spacing on a word processor, so you can hand edit).
  • Keep an ideas-sheet (questions, mind map) handy so that you can jot down ideas that occur while you are writing.
  • Do not worry about style, but write quickly and spontaneously.
  • Write your introductions last – it fits your essay and avoids blocks.
  • Write your introductions first – keeps you on track, provides a blueprint.
  • Work from a structured plan – refer to it frequently.
  • Start each paragraph with a main idea – each paragraph becomes an achievement.
  • Leave time for the first draft to cool before editing.
  • Select and simplify research material.
  • Talk about your essay – it shifts blocks, makes writing easier, and gives confidence.

Step 8: Edit, and redraft

  • As many times, as is necessary.

Step 9: Proof read and check

  • Spelling, punctuation, and grammar.
  • Check the guidelines and marking schedule.

Step 10: Submit your essay on time

Things To Check Before Starting Your Essay

  • Due date: how much time do you have?
  • Length: Number, words, or pages required.
  • Structure: are headings and subsections required?
  • Presentation: margin, typed, cover page?
  • What referencing system to use.
  • Sources of information – your own experiences, books, journals, interviews, class notes, internet
  • What is the essay question asking you to do?
  • Does the marking schedule give more details?
  • How the marks allocated?
  • How does the question relate to your course objectives?
  • What is it that the programmer needs you to know/understand?

Structure of an Essay


  • The first impression is that you have a clear idea of how to answer the question.
  • Often makes a general statement to start, leading to more specific information relating directly to the essay question.
  • Outlines the main ideas of the essay and the order in which they will be presented (like a map of the route you will be taking).
  • Gives a clear definition of the topic or question
  • States your stance on the topic
  • Interests your reader


  • A structured argument or discussion
  • A logical sequence of ideas
  • One idea per paragraph
  • Supported by evidence, including quotes, examples, or statistics.
  • Shows that you are well informed about the topic.
  • Leads to a logical conclusion
  • Written in clear language for the reader


  • Very important: the final words your marker will read.
  • Reflects on the main points of the essay and draws them together into a logical statement.
  • Sums up the argument
  • Makes an overall concluding statement without bringing in any new evidence
  • Gives the option to state your opinion without having to write “I think…”.
  • In general, conclusions do not contain quotes.

Reference List

  • A list of all the sources you used in your essay.
  • Uses the format required by your department, school, institution or discipline.

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