Friday, 27 March 2015

How to write essays like a boss!



It's not very common for my degree to be writing essays but I have to write about two a year and I always dread them. Writing isn't really my strong point, which is another reason I chose a very hands on creative degree, so I normally struggle when it comes to writing essays. I do actually get some decent grades on them though so I thought I'd share my tips on how to deal with them and hopefully get some good grades for yourself! 

Beforehand: 

Turn up to each lecture willing to take notes. 
Theres no point hoping for a good grade if you always skip lectures because they're too boring. It'll never happen unless you're one of those small few who can do nothing all term and then whip out an A+ essay magically from your brain... I know a few. 

Note what the tutor is saying. 
Most universities upload the presentation somewhere for you to look back on so it's worth noting down information your tutor is saying that isn't on the presentation rather than copying slides word for word. You'll get a better range of notes at the end by combining their information and the slide information and hopefully a better understanding.

Do the readings. 
Yes most of them are boring but they help! Some essay topics are tough to crack and without doing the reading it's hard to understand even if you hop on Google. Make notes and highlight sections that stand out or will come in useful later on.

Keep note of references.
Any webpages, any articles, any books you've used throughout the assignment keep a note of it so you can come back later for referencing. There's nothing worse than having to go through your web history to find that specific website you looked at 3 weeks ago to see what Constructivism is. 


I'm currently writing a 2000 word analysis on Post Humanism, don't ask me what it is as that's a whole different blogpost that will probably bore you to death. Plus I have honestly no idea how this relates to a design degree. We've luckily been given an extension so instead of writing that I'm writing this, lucky you!  

During:

Make a structure plan. 
You may have been given a structure by your tutors or not. Either way it's good to lay out your essay before you start to write. Jot down the order of points you're going to talk about and even include quotes you want to use for each paragraph. Making a plan means your writing should flow better which means better grades! 

Recolour code your notes. 
After noting down the structure of your essay and what key points you're going to talk about it's useful to go back through your notes and recolour code them. Use a separate colour for each key point and then when you get to a specific key point you're able to quickly see the notes you need.

Find your writing spot. 
For me, I write best while at my desk with disney music blasting through my headphones and snacks on hand. I find if I use my laptop on the sofa or bed I get distracted more and get less work done.

APA like a boss!
There's a few guidelines to referencing but my university prefers APA references. A lot of students complain about referencing but personally it's my favourite part of the essay as it's the easiest. Massey has a great online tool called OWLL APA Interactive (which you can find here) which is really helpful in guiding you through exactly what you need to write for what type of document it is. You can also use RefMe which is similar and they also have an app for on the go whilst in the library where you can scan barcodes and it automatically gives you the reference. 

Get a proof reader.
I always get my Mum to proof read my essays before I hand them in just in case I've missed a capital or a comma somewhere. It's always good to have someone else proof read your essay to make sure it sounds right and you're used the right their! 

Hopefully these tips help you out when your next assignment comes along! I know I can't help you actually write it but I'm there in spirit. I will add that I'm not an expert so feel free to share your tips in the comments as well! 

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1 comment

  1. I just wrote an enormously long essay a few weeks ago, and still can't believe I was able to do it. Totally agree that you need to come to it organized - making a plan beforehand gets 1/3 of the work done!

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