Can I get a bachelor’s degree/ diploma/ certificate in less-than-designated time?
Do I have to pay for the services provided by the Academic Advising Centre?
Will I be assigned the same academic adviser for the entire year?
What is an essay?
It is a short piece of structured writing based on a particular subject. An essay requires extra reading around the subject and requires formal academic writing. The wording (explain, discuss, evaluate etc.) of the essay topic forces you to answer the question in a certain way.
In preparation to answer the essay question you would have gathered a lot of information. The next step is to arrange this information so that it is easy for the reader to follow your discussion/argument. Structured writing is putting your thoughts/ideas on paper to ensure a consistent progression to support your discussion/argument. For example make sure that a paragraph contains the same idea and not many ideas in one paragraph.
Keep your writing short and clear. Do not use abbreviations, informal language and slang, for example, ‘he’ll/it’s’, write words in full, ‘he will/it is’. Write in complete sentences, arrange one idea per paragraph and check your grammar and spelling carefully. Avoid personal (I/my/we) and sensitive language.
What is the structure of an essay?
An essay is made up of three sections, introduction, development and conclusion.
The introductory paragraph tells the reader what to expect in the rest of the essay. It is the first impression your tutor has of your writing. It must show them that you know what you are talking about and are able to answer the question. An introduction should start with an interesting or catchy first sentence, to gain the tutor’s interest for the essay.
How do you do this? An introduction must be short and to the point. Provide some background and context of the topic. Include a main sentence which indicates the focus of the essay. For example, “This report will analyse the relative advantages and disadvantages of the different operating systems”. Use the same, or very similar, wording as in the question. State your response to the essay question which shows whether or not you agree with the idea presented by the question.
If part of the question is, “Discuss recent developments in communication technology” then in your introduction say something like, “This essay will consider recent developments in the field of communication technology and will …”
Use words and expressions which clearly show the plan behind your writing, for example:
The essay is divided into four main sections. It will first consider … it will then go on to describe … the third part compares … Finally, some conclusions will be drawn as to… an introduction can only be finalised at the end of your planning.
This is the point at which you provide more details of what you have raised in the introduction. It consists of a number of paragraphs that start with linking words such as: moreover, in addition, another, similarly, also, furthermore, however, in contrast, on the other hand, although and alternatively. Each paragraph should start with a topic or lead sentence that explains the main idea of the paragraph. You may have to write more than one paragraph for each idea. Back up your point of view with examples taken from the text(s). This could include quotations taken directly from the text (use double quotation marks to enclose the quoted passage), or references to part of the text that supports your point of view.
The conclusion is the last impression you make on the tutor. It is generally one paragraph long and answers the main points and questions. You give your opinion in response to the question. Remind the tutor of your point of view. Do not introduce new arguments/ideas here. Check that the conclusion reinforces your main point of view outlined in the introduction. Ways to introduce your conclusion:
- It is clear that…
- In conclusion…
- In light of the evidence… Having considered some of the important arguments…
How do I answer essay questions?
Tutors often say that the main reason that students don’t receive high marks on essay questions is that they do not follow directions even when these directions are included in the question. One reason may be that students don’t seem to know how to identify words in questions that give direction on how to construct an essay answer and what to include. A list of words commonly used in essay questions is described in the following question.
These words are called KEY WORDS! One suggestion many students have found helpful is to mark all the KEY WORDS in all test/assignment/exam questions before beginning to answer. Identifying key words also helps you choose relevant literature that will answer the question in a meaningful way. Finally this makes it easier for you to organize an answer, know what to say, and know when enough has been written.
How do I understand keywords?
ANALYSE: Explain, step by step or point by point while writing. Pay attention to who, what, where, when, why, and how in the answer. Include strengths, weaknesses, pros and cons, research for and against.
COMPARE: Stress similarities and differences between objects, concepts, or ideas. (For example: Compare public and private Companies).
CONTRAST: Emphasize the dissimilarities, differences, or unique and distinguishing characteristics in the response.
DEFINE: Clearly state the meaning, list qualities, traits, or characteristics. A definition should contain only essential information.
DESCRIBE: What is it? How does it work? Include traits, characteristics, or retell a story including those facts that summarize the essential features.
DISCUSS: Present significant characteristics, pros and cons, pertinent research, and the significance of each. Develop the arguments for and against or analyse the advantages, disadvantages, or problems.
EVALUATE: Emphasize positive and negative aspects. Include opinions and support these with some kind of proof, information, or examples. Normally, instructors don’t like unsupported opinions from college students. Provide examples, use brief stories, analogies, relevant events, or similar incidents to support general statements and main ideas.
EXPLAIN: Give reasons or justifications for something, or present causes, rationalizations, or how / why something occurred.
ILLUSTRATE: Show what something is like. Give some clear examples. Many subjects use diagrams and graphs to help.
INTERPRET: Cover existing understandings of a topic. Paraphrase, translate, condense, simplify, and/or diagnose as you write.
JUSTIFY: Present a rationale, reasons for conclusions, recommendations, or results. Use proof, research, examples, or quotes to support justifications.
LIST: Record topics in numerical, developmental, or chronological order. Many times Academic Resources a brief description or explanation is expected but the questions will usually request it if desired.
OUTLINE: Present your answer in terms of major points followed by clarifying details or facts. No elaboration is usually necessary. It is wise to find out if your instructors wish for you to outline by listing only main and subordinate points in short numbered phrases or if they want you to use the narrative format with complete sentences and paragraphs.
PROVE: Include factual evidence, research, logic, and/or scientific proof that substantiates a case, a specific position, or a set of hypotheses.
RELATE: Clearly point out connections or relationships between two or more ideas.
REVIEW: Mention important ideas, major points, and/or list topics from lectures or the textbook. Sometimes review means critically evaluate and/or give your opinion.
SUMMARIZE: List major ideas, concepts, and consequences in a short paragraph or a sentence. This could also mean presenting a brief abstract of main ideas, composing a concise resume covering only the highlights and relevant details. Little elaboration is necessary.
TRACE: Discuss according to a pattern such as chronological order, according to a definite sequence, or by presenting phases or stages in order.
What is a bibliography?
A bibliography is a list of the sources (books, articles, websites etc.) that you have used to collect information about your topic. If you use quotes (repeating word for word as written by the author) from these sources, you need to reference them in your bibliography at the end of your essay. A bibliography is a list of references in alphabetical order of the authors’ names and the titles of their work. It appears at the end of your essay.
There are many styles of writing a bibliography e.g. APA, Harvard etc. Consult with your tutor to check what style they use at your college. There are many websites that provide guidelines that you could refer to for assistance.
What does a bibliography look like?
A bibliography may look like this:Crew, Gary and McBride, Marc. (2001). The Kraken. Melbourne, Lothian.
Crew, Gary and McBride, Marc. (2001). The Kraken. Melbourne, Lothian.
Coen, Joel and Coen, Ethan. (2000). O Brother, Where Art Thou? Film.
For additional information on essay writing:
• Refer to your tutor for specific requirements in your discipline
• The internet has a large number of useful sites on essay writing
• Refer to books in a library on academic writing
BIBLIOGRAPHY Gould, S. (2011). Centre for Academic Success. Study Guides: Writing. Retrieved from http://library.bcu.ac.uk/learner/writingguides/1.12.htm on 7th March 2016.
State of NSW through the Department of Education and Communities. (2011). Retrieved from www.schoolatoz.com.au on 7th March 2016.
What is plagiarism?
You are plagiarising when you use other people’s ideas or copy material directly from sources, either using the original text or your own words, without correctly acknowledging or recognising where you got it from. If you do this, you are stealing other people’s work and ideas, and this is not acceptable. It is considered a serious offence.