How to Write an Essay - Part 1

How to Write an Essay - Part 1

Academic essays may be divided into two main categories - descriptive and argumentative. For science you are most likely to have to write descriptive essays e.g. “Explain how raw plant materials may be formulated into tablets”.

Argumentative essays, where you express your opinion, may sometimes be required e.g. “The use of cloned animals in human medicines is cruel and should be abolished.”

Usually you will be given topics around material that has been covered in lectures. However, using lecture notes alone will not be good enough. Even worse is copying verbatim from these notes! You need to read around the subject, including the set books and other external sources such as research papers and journals.

In Part 1 we will look at perhaps the most important stage: planning your essay. In Part 2 of the series we will examine the actual writing process.

Essay Planning

1. Write out an outline of your essay plan – on paper.

Work out your thesis statement – this is the underlying idea of the essay.
Then list down the key ideas of the body of the essay.
The ideas do not have to be in order as you can sort them out later.
Work out which essay type you will use.
You will need to do further background reading to enlarge your knowledge. Usually notes taken in lectures will not be enough. However, be careful of relying solely on the internet as the sources may not be reliable or credible.
(2) Make more detailed notes under each key area – on paper.

Use your lecture notes.
Use the materials from your background reading.
Remember to reference the source of all items taken from books, journals or the internet.
It is important to write down the source on your reference material when you collect it in order for you to be able to include citations and to create a reference list. Later on my may not be able to locate the source!
(3) Organize your essay into introductory, body and summary paragraphs.

List the points you will cover in each section
Remember to include background information into the introduction
Do not put new information / references into the conclusion.
Notes: Memory maps are a good way of brainstorming & linking ideas together during the planning stage. A good private English tutor will be able to give you feedback on your writing and give expert tuition on writing essays in English for academic purposes.