How To Take Your Essay to the Next Level

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February 2021 by


One thing we are sure you know is how to write an essay. At university, you’ll be swimming in all of the essays you have to write. But that’s why it’s even more important that your essays are at their best. And let’s be honest, there’s nothing worse than getting a grade back and being so close to the boundary of the one above! So how do you get over that line? We are here to tell you exactly how to get your essay to the next level and achieve those higher grades. If this sounds like something you need to know, then stay tuned!

Read the brief thoroughly

It might sound like a basic tip, but it’s important if you want to achieve high marks and something a lot of people don’t do. The brief is the sheet that tells you exactly what your essay needs to be about. It will tell you how many words you need to write or how many pages you need to produce, and it’s crucial you stick to that. It should give you clear points your essay needs to include, so you fulfil the criteria. Essentially, the eye is in the detail, so read it once, maybe even twice to better understand the work you’re about to produce.

Make sure you actually refer to the question

You might have found that during your time in education, your teachers often had you circling the words in the title that are the most important. If you’ve never been taught this method, it’s a great way to pull out all of the key areas you need to cover. After all, you don’t want to answer an essay on ‘what’ they did, if the question actually asks you ‘how’ they did it! It’s very easy to get carried away with your writing but when your lecturer is marking it, they will notice if there is any lack of relevancy. Try the keywords trick and make sure the question is being answered consistently throughout your writing.

Read and use the marking scheme

This is essential. Use the marking scheme! As you probably know, any lecturers will use this to mark your essay. Just by having access to it, you have an advantage. If you don’t use it, then you’re missing out. It tells you exactly what your essay needs to include to get those high marks, so it’s crucial to the process. Read it before you write your essay, so you know which techniques to look out for and then mark your own work against it once you’ve finished. If you think you’ve ticked all of the points off, then chances are, your lecturer will too. Use your resources!

Follow a structure

Something that makes essays a little easier is that you can usually go by a structure. This does depend on your subject and your assignment itself, but for the most part, they go, point, evidence and then explanation. In fact, you’ve probably heard of those three words before. They’re commonly used in secondary school and believe it or not, they’re just as useful in higher education. Again, how you use that structure might differ, but for many essays, the foundation of the PEE chains is a great tactic to make sure your work reads well.

Back up your points

In any point you make with essays, you must have some evidence to back it up. If you don’t, the lecturer is likely to completely disregard your point because you haven’t managed to prove it. That will lose you a lot of marks, and really, it will be a waste of the word count and make your writing look weak. Make sure you do lots of planning and research in advance, so you have plenty of evidence to choose from when it comes to the time of writing. And of course, make sure the evidence you use is actually relevant. If it isn’t, then once again, your point becomes pretty useless!

Don’t describe, analyse!

This is a very common comment made by teachers because sometimes people only touch the surface level with their analysis and that’s not going to get you any marks. If you want to get to the next level with your writing then you need to keep your analysis strong. Think deeper with every point you make. One of the easiest ways to make sure you analysing well is to ask the question, why? If you make a point, why has that point been made? Why does this phrase mean this? Why does this evidence contribute to the question? You’ve got to go beyond the basic explanation and give your readers something to think about. That’s the kind of analysis they’re looking for.

This is what you need to take your essay above and beyond those grade boundaries. Sometimes it might take multiple drafts to perfect, but the effort will all be worth it in the end. Have you found these tips helpful with your essay writing?



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