How to Write an Academic Essay: 10 Key Principles

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Author: Alice Miley

It doesn’t matter where you are studying or what your major is, in any case you will have to write academic essays. This point is a compulsory one, and every student must face it, that’s why the main goal of this article is to guide you and clarify the key principles needed for the successful essay.

1. Comprehend the subject of the essay

Don’t neglect this point, otherwise all your efforts may be made in vain. It’s impossible to write about the question you don’t understand, as such essay is doomed to failure. Think it over and over, until you will be 100 percent confident. If there are any misunderstandings, you should consult relevant literature, surf the Internet or ask your teacher/lecturer for help. On the condition you are free to choose a topic for your essay, than it’s preferable and much easier to work with the issues you are interested in and can find enough sources for research.

2. Conduct research of the topic

Go to the library or use the Internet – these two means students choose the most. Suitable information is the basis on which you can build the rest of your essay. An excellent way to systematize a big amount of chosen data is to make notes on cards; it will help you not to get lost and work faster.

3. Make a plan of the essay

Before writing the actual essay you should take care of an outline. This step is necessary if you want to make the essay well-organized and avoid problems with the structure. Writing the plan takes some time, but later at the following stages your efficiency will increase significantly. Review your notes and combine similar information in small groups.

4. Compare the question of the essay with the results of your research

The main goal of this point is to figure out a number of paragraphs and pages in the essay. Requirements for the size of the paper are an important factor that affects the final result.

5. Write the thesis sentence of the essay

A thesis sentence is the main statement in the essay, the idea you want to share and prove. Traditionally the thesis essay is offered at the end of the introduction. You develop and expand this statement in the paragraphs.

6. Create the draft

You don’t write the final version of the essay, remember it! You should pay big attention to the introduction (including the thesis) and the general structure described in the sketch. Follow your plan and fix thoughts that come into your mind, even if they are not fully formulated and can’t meet the requirements of the academic writing.

7. Structure your paragraphs

After your introduction and thoughts are more or less prepared, it’s high time for writing the paragraphs. In our case paragraphs are the building blocks by means of which we present arguments. In the academic essay one paragraph support one idea; this idea helps to achieve the purpose of the whole essay. On the one hand, in the paragraph we focus on one point, but on the other one, the next paragraph should be related to the previous one, it’s something like a chain. The main sentence of the paragraph is called a topic sentence. Just as the paragraphs correlate with the thesis, sentences in the paragraph should be connected with each other and also support the topic sentence. In general we recommend you to use the method Introduce – provide – explain – conclude. It’s quite similar to the structure of the essay, and we can agree with it to a certain extend. The powerful topic sentence shows the direction of the whole paragraph, and the first thing you need to do is to introduce the topic sentence, put it into the context. Give one-two evidences and clearly explain how they relate the aim of the paragraph. The way of explanation depends on the discipline you write. At the end of the paragraph you should offer a summary sentence – a conclusion in miniature.

8. Draw the final conclusion

In order to summarize all things previously said in the essay you should concentrate the key ideas and results you got in several sentences. Don’t forget that your conclusions should be related with the thesis sentence.

9. Include transitional phrases and check the structure

Using transitional phrases you built a bridge from one paragraph to another. A link of the content increases chances that your paper will be well received by readers. Reread the essay and make sure that all planned ideas are written.

10. Edit your essay

We mean grammar, spelling, punctuation and appropriate academic style. They are factors that greatly affect the final mark, for that reason you should be careful.

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