Advice for Writing Essays
Courtesy of Dr. Daniel Ansari, Psychology Department, Western University
Please find below a number of suggestions on how to write an essay. These are meant to be suggestions. You are not required to tick each and every one of these off as you write your essay. The below points are meant to serve as guidance rather than instructions.
• Tailor your essay to the specific topic or question of your choosing
• Do not simply write down everything you know about a particular topic
• Select the evidence/arguments you present carefully and make sure they are appropriate to the topic you are writing on/ the question you are seeking to answer.
• Write an essay plan that contains your main arguments, sources etc. in bullet points. An essay plan helps you formulate your mental plan
• Construct an argument
• Reflect critically on your readings
• Compare and contrast different positions
• Use APA Style throughout
• Structure your essay carefully – focus on the main points/messages of the papers you review in your essay.
• Read your essay carefully before submitting it. Reading your essay aloud can help you find errors and grammatical inconsistencies that you may not notice when you are reading the essay silently.
• State clearly and with brevity what you are going to write about
• State what you are going to discuss and how you are going to discuss it
• Give the reader an idea of what is to follow in the discussion
• Make the reader aware of what your plan is and give them a taste of your main argument(s)
• In sufficient detail present the evidence/arguments relevant to your topic/question
• Compare and discuss contrasting pieces of evidence/arguments and how they relate/speak to your particular contention/argument
• Bind different pieces of evidence/arguments together in a coherent fashion
• Present a real discussion rather than a list of facts
• It may help you to use subtitles to distinguish different pieces of your discussion, evidence/arguments relevant to the different
points you are making
• Provide a short and succinct summary of your main arguments
• Refer back to your topic/question and say specifically how you addressed it
• Try to sum up fundamental issues in short, clear sentences
• Allocate significant time to write your conclusion
• Do not do it at the last minute
• It is the key piece of your essay. The one that readers will read last and therefore will be what they remember most about your essay.
• It is also a section that readers will turn to, to get a quick overview of your Essay.
• Understand that the accuracy of your references matters to the reader – it is the only way he or she can find out where you got
your ideas from, what inspired you etc.