Academic essay writing does not have to be a struggle if you understand the ingredients and the process.
You can’t avoid them – just like flies at a picnic, they buzz around you, disturbing your peace, and making you frustrated and a bit angry. Unlike flies, you can’t swat them, spray them, or try to ignore them. You just have to “bite the bullet” and get them done. And one of the most frustrating parts about those essay assignments, is that they are required in every course, and you are graded on your writing skill along with the content you present. Here you will learn how to make your academic essay writing a little easier, with a process that works and some extra tips to help along the way.
The Ingredients of All Essays
Every time you set out to write an essay, you first have some questions to answer:
1. To you have a topic that is appropriate for the assignment? Sometimes the topic is assigned; sometimes, you have options within a broader topic area; and sometimes you have complete freedom to choose your own. Make sure that your topic fall within the parameters of the assignment. If you are supposed to write an essay on something related to the Civil War, for example, and it is to be no longer than 3 pages, you obviously are not going to cover all of the major battles of the War. Maybe you can pick one or two.
2. You must have a focus. Often this is called a thesis. So, why are you writing this essay? What is important about the topic? How would anyone else benefit from this information or opinion you are going to give? All academic essays must have a thesis, and that thesis must be provide in your introduction.
3. You must define your audience. Of course your audience is your instructor, but often essays are shared within a class, so assume that your audience is also your peers.
4. Your piece must reflect sound organization. How will you organize the information or points of view that you will present? Usually, this is accomplished by some type of outline or other graphic organizer. Find one that works for you and the topic and use it.
5. Does your topic require research? If so, you will need to plan time to get that research done, probably before you develop a thesis or organize the presentation.
Structure of an Academic Essay
You know all about introduction, body, and conclusion, and this basic format for writing an academic essay will never change. But try thinking about these three elements a bit differently. Ask these questions:
1. How can I get my reader interested in this topic? (Introduction)
2. How can I keep my reader interested and give information that s/he will find unique and/or useful? (Body)
3. How can I leave my reader with some new insight, some recommendations, some call to action or some questions to ask him/herself? (Conclusion)
Asking these questions will allow you to think just a bit differently than you have in the past.
The “Science” of How to Write an Academic Essay
Here is the process for constructing your essay, once you have the topic identified.
1 Research what you need to in order to have the information you need to be a bit of an “expert” on the topic or to support an opinion you are presenting.
2. Organize your thoughts into sub-topics that will be the paragraphs of your essay. If you are struggling with this, there is a simple solution. You can read sample essays on the same topic all over the web – do not “lift” these essays. Use them as models for how information is sequenced and presented.
3. Make a least an informal structure of the sequence in which you will cover your sub-topics and the details of those sub-topics.
4. Write the rough draft of the body, then add the introduction and conclusion – they both flow easier if you do it this way.
5. Watch your language – academic essay writing is formal unless otherwise indicated by your instructor. There is no room for slang.
6. Grammar and composition skills – if you are not skilled in this area, accept it. Get some help and don’t be ashamed to do so. You may be a math or physics whiz but not a skilled writer. It’s okay.
Academic writing may not be your great joy – it’s not for lots of students. But if you answer the questions, follow the steps, and use these tips, you will get better grades.