Academic essay

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Many students, perhaps most of all those who have been out of full-time education for a while, are intimidated by the idea of writing an essay. It can be worrying to see how much emphasis is placed on essays in most courses of study in Higher Education. Some ways of dealing with this sense of worry are:

  • Think of an essay as a learning experience, not just as an exercise on which you will be assessed. When you have finished writing an essay, you should understand your subject better than you did when you started.
  • Realise that an essay, if well-chosen and with a thought-provoking title, is an exploration of an area in your field of study.
  • Your thoughts should be provoked in an essay, and you should be developing new ways of looking at your topic. Ideally, the conclusion to which you come should be a new thought to you.
  • There is rarely a single 'correct' answer to an essay question - that is why you are writing an essay, not answering a multiple-choice question. There is a quotation, "How do I know what I think until I see what I have written?"
  • Your job as a professional (and students in Higher Education are training to become professionals) is to learn to exercise judgement. You should come to a conclusion based on the evidence that you have.
  • As a student, you may pause to ask yourself "Have I demonstrated my ability in the subject in this essay?". Don't try to show off, but do try to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding.

There is a longer page of advice available in a leaflet on Structuring and writing essays produced by the Study Advice Service in the University of Hull: go to [[1]].

See also Good writing, Good academic writing and the longer leaflets on Academic writing and Structuring and writing essays.‏‎