he academic year is underway. At this point, first year students will have been given a number of assignments to complete for submission between now and Christmas. Usually students freak out when they receive their first college essay. The first essay is usually the most daunting, especially if undergraduates do not possess sharp writing skills. It is common for students not to know where to start. When writing a high-quality essay, it is crucial that students have a clear knowledge on the topic under investigation. Writing a superior assignment requires proficiency and top-quality research ability.
Firstly, it is imperative that students understand what is being asked. Ensure that you read the words carefully and know what each word means, as sometimes you may not be actually answering what is being asked.
Examples of words in questions that are commonly overlooked/misinterpreted include:
- Discuss – ask for detail, open ended;
- List – try to include all that is needed, do not narrow to most important (unless asked), does not need to be overly detailed;
- Describe – focus on detail and features;
- Analyse – break down the topic, how the components work together, focus on relationships;
- Compare/contrast – consider characteristics of two or more things, discuss each characteristic on its own, point by point;
- Prove – present one side, need to be persuasive;
- Trace – used in history most often, examine phases in sequence.
When wring your first essay (or any), ensure that you take on board the following steps/pointers:
Researching your assignment is quite a lengthy process, so it is advisable that you start as soon as possible. Gathering information from a number of sources, such as, books, journals, Internet sources and national and local papers is where most students start. It is, however, important to make sure the material you research is relevant to your assignment topic.
Organising all the data carefully and removing material that you think is irrelevant is the second step in the research process.
Once you have reorganised the material, the next step is to create a mind map of each paragraph. Usually, having three solid points, with evidence and proof to support same, forms an umbrella, which should anchor each paragraph. Planning to this degree will aid you when it comes to writing the body of the paragraphs.
Your introduction should command the reader’s attention. Opening with some recent research or quotation is often a good idea. Always tell the reader what you are going to write about in the introduction.
The conclusion should be similar to your introduction. You need to summarise what you have said in your essay. It is also where you can voice your own opinion. It is always a good idea to leave your reader with a lasting impression of your argument.
The best way to create a superior piece of work is to create more than one draft. Keep amending until you have achieved a complete outcome that clearly states your hypothesis and displays your knowledge on the subject matter.
The final stage of your research is your reference section. It is very important to reference properly, as you could be accused of plagiarism if you have not referenced correctly. Most institutions provide a reference guide for properly citing sources, so take a look in your college library.
For further advice and support on all educational and career issues, contact Clodagh A. Higgins of Galway Career Clinic, Salthill, Galway on 091–581234, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or alternatively visit www.galwaycareersclinic.com.