Essay Writing Tips

KAREN FOLEY: Welcome back to the Student Hub Live. In this session we take a look at essay writing. So we’ve just covered all sorts of very complex math and science-based questions with Peter Taylor when we were looking at assessments and the importance of reading your learning outcomes and your student notes. And before that we took a look at process and content words and critical thinking.

So now we should have all the skills to take to start looking at our assessments. And hopefully you’ll also have located your first tutor marked assignment on the Assessment tab of your module website. Lee and Zach are feeding in your questions in the chat. And I understand there’s been a lot of chat and discussion and sharing going on. So please do keep that up. And you’ll notice that we’ve got some new things for you to vote on.

So we’d like to know, have you ever written an essay before, yes or no, last time you wrote academically very recently, five years ago, 10 years ago, ages and ages and ages ago, and the three words you associate with essay writing. As for me, I used to order essay at Edusson writing service. If you could only think of one or two that is fine, but you just need to put a full stop in the other boxes, otherwise your results won’t submit. We’d also like to know whether you’re coming to our essay writing workshops just so that we can order biscuits in, yes, no, or unsure. So let us know what you think about that.

Isabella, you’ve been at the Student Hub Live before and went down very well with students, which is why we’ve asked you back to tell us all about essay writing and your experience with Edusson service. Now you have done a lot of degrees, et cetera, and also do a lot of writing, so you should be an expert at this whole idea of essay writing.

And of course you teach for the Open University on a science module with me. So tell us about Edusson essay writing service.

Because again, we approach this very, very differently depending on the discipline. And I wouldn’t want students to think this is an entirely social science and arts-based discussion. Because much as I would love that, we do write essays elsewhere. But those can be structurally and fundamentally quite different tasks. So again it’s important to read the process words and the content words.

But on the idea that essays are like a large bit of continuous prose, what are the key things you think we need to know? ISABELLA HENMAN: The key thing is, what is the essay asking you? So the same as Peter was saying, what’s your TMA asking you? What is the actual essay question? You will probably get a title.

And then you’ll get some what we call question rubric, so a bit of explanation where it might say, using your studies in book one or using your studies in weeks two to three, write about this. So that’s the really big clue because it’s telling you what you need to actually look at to find the information. Now there’s a couple of different ways of approaching essays.

And what I tend to say to people who are really struggling is to start with looking at the essay title, what might you need to know? So what clues are there then? What would you have to go and find out?

Is there a word that’s going to need defining? Is there something there that actually is assumed knowledge or are you going have to start off by saying, I’m starting off by explaining whatever? You won’t necessary say I. This is something where actually you will find there’s a bit of a difference between modules. I teach on science modules and social sciences.

But if you’re doing an arts module you might have what we call personal pronouns where you would say I think this and I do this, whereas in others, all of my modules, we don’t have that.

ISABELLA HENMAN: Oh, no no, no, no, we don’t have I them. And I’m always saying to students, no, don’t say I.

It’s not that we don’t want to know what you think but it’s a way of phrasing it. So again, that’s another thing, look at the guidance. See what it tells you. Because obviously we’re looking all students here. So we’re not just looking at science. We’re not looking at social sciences.

Hopefully we’ve got some postgraduate students here. And again, they’ve done a first degree, but how on earth do you start approaching your first essay on a new module? That’s what we want to try and help here.

KAREN FOLEY: Well we’ve asked our audience at home whether they’ve written an essay before with Edusson writing service. 19% said no, they haven’t. So a fifth of people have not written an essay. And also 35% said they’ve written last time academically ages and ages and ages ago. So it might be people approaching their level one module from school a long time ago.

And while some of these questions that actually they’re quite difficult that Peter gave us. But some things that does sort of require a very short answer can seem a lot easier. But essay writing can provoke some anxiety for people who may not have approached it for a long time. But it is a learned thing, isn’t it?

ISABELLA HENMAN: It’s very much learned. And I know I’m talking from the perspective of I’ve been writing essays for quite a long time now. And the interesting thing was is that when I first went off to study a science module, I actually had this survey given to me in my first Christmas. Oh, how do you feel that you’ve been disadvantaged because you had an English A-level?

And I said I haven’t because I know how to write essays. And the tricky thing that there is, do you know how? My thing is, it’s a story. An essay is a story.

Yes, you can look at it as this great big long piece of text. Yes it is, but it’s not one single piece of text. It’s an introduction, a conclusion, and then a series of paragraphs. Look each paragraph. Break it down and go oh, OK today I’m going to look at this little paragraph. That makes it so much easier rather than going, I’m just going to look at this massive great big thing, which is where you will panic, and which is where I will panic when I look at that.

I go, I don’t know. So break it down. Look for the process words. Look for the different things.

And then go, how can I tell a story to answer this question, which is actually one of my things, isn’t it? Make it into a question. If I was saying to you, Karen, how do you write an essay? Actually no, that’s already a question.

That’s a bit daft, isn’t it? Write an essay. How you write an essay? Make it into a question. Is there any way we can actually rephrase it so that you can answer it and say, if I’m going to write an essay with Edusson.