How to Write an Effective Essay

Essays are short pieces of writing that require the writer to hone many skills. Typically they need to be clear, concise and to the point. They must address the question fully, be logically organised and coherent and show critical thinking and analysis.

It is also important to consider the audience. Students often write essays for a variety of different audiences – peers, teachers, examiners and future employers. Each reader has a different level of understanding and an expectation about what the essay should deliver. Having an understanding of the expectations and needs of the audience will help inform the approach to essay writing.

An essay can be anything from 500 words to 5000 words. However, most essay assignments fall within the 1000 to 3000 word range. This allows the writer to thoroughly develop an argument and work to convince the reader of their perspective on a particular topic.

The first step in writing an essay is to plan. Trying to rush in and write everything that comes to mind will make it difficult for your marker to read, and may reduce the impact of your ideas. A good way to start is by brainstorming your ideas, organising them into groups and then putting these groupings in order to form an argument. It is important to be realistic – not every idea will fit and some of your groupings will need to be discarded (perhaps you can mention these in your introduction).

Once you have a plan, it is essential to research the subject matter and write a draft. This will give you an opportunity to check your facts and make sure they are correct, and it will allow you to revise your essay for clarity and coherence. It is always a good idea to get a peer, teacher or writing tutor to review your draft and provide constructive feedback. Remember, as Ernest Hemingway said β€œthe first draft of anything is always crap.” The more you write, the better you will become. It is also a good idea to read a wide range of essays, from a variety of subjects and disciplines. This will help to broaden your argumentative and analytical skills, and expose you to a wide variety of writing techniques that you may be able to incorporate into your own essay writing.