How to Write an Effective Essay

The essay is a piece of writing that methodically examines and evaluates a topic, issue or problem. Its primary objective is to present a clear, concise and organised argument on a particular topic. The essay is a form of real writing designed for readers and so it must try to engage them, to make a point and ultimately to change their thinking, not just inform them.

Before beginning to write an essay, it is essential to ensure that you fully understand the question. The best way to do this is to read the question several times, and then to make sure that you have understood it correctly by comparing it to other similar questions. For example, if the question is asking you to compare ‘eastern’ and ‘western’ schools of military strategy, it is important to understand that this must mean Eastern and Western Europe, not China or Russia.

It is also vital that you have a clear thesis before starting to write. This is the central idea that your essay will focus on, and should be clearly defined in your introduction. It is important to keep your thesis in mind throughout the essay, and to ensure that all of your writing is linked back to this central theme.

Once you have a firm grasp on the key themes of your essay, it is time to start drafting. At this stage it is crucial to resist the temptation to get everything right; instead, think of this as raw material that will be refined in the editing and redrafting stages. The drafting process can be a time consuming, but worthwhile, task.

At the drafting stage it is also a good idea to begin to hunt down any additional resources that you may need in order to support your argument. This could include empirical evidence, alternative viewpoints, and complementary citations. Once again, this will be a time-consuming exercise depending on the type of essay you are writing. Popular academic styles such as MLA, APA and Chicago all come with their own specific rules for citing sources.

The final stage of drafting is to revise and polish your essay. This will involve rewriting your paragraphs, and using transition words to ensure that your paragraphs flow together. It will also be a good opportunity to check for any spelling or grammar errors, and to ensure that your argument is supported adequately. It is important to remember that your essay will be read by real people, so it is worth ensuring that it is free from errors and easy to read. After all, this is what will make or break your grade! Best of luck with your essay!