Essays are a vital part of writing, and everyone has to write essays at some point in their life. At the end of the day the essay is a tool for you to tell the reader something about the chosen subject. There are simple rules which mean you can write a good essay without having to worry too much about how good you are at writing.
Essays comprise the following elements:
• Argument or Discussion
The focus of the essay is basically the whole point of writing the thing in the first place! Focus comes down to one thing: **Read The Question!**.
Look at the following formula:
RTQ = ½ TA.
This means “ read the question, because it equals half the answer”. Most essays have a question, title or clearly defined focus. So when you set out to write the essay, the key is to always answer the question. If you are so fortunate as to be told, for example, “write 1000 words on a subject of your choice” however, it is up to you to define the focus, and to make sure you keep coming back to it. So when you have to decide writing your essay, make it a sentence which sums up simply what you are going to write about.
For either case, it’s a good idea to underline the key words in your title or question and keep going back to these, to see if what you’ve written is answering the question, or whether it can be discarded. Take some time to plan your essay around the focus, around the question. Develop a plan which shows what areas you are going to cover, and use this plan as a means of keeping your focus throughout the essay. Constantly refer to the plan
Writing an essay means carrying out research, and research is simply seeking out, and finding, the information you need to answer your question.
Research means being organised. You have to decide what information you are going to need, in order to answer your question. Then the next step is to decide where you will get that information from, and then to go and retrieve the information. Reading the information the first time allows you to decide what is relevant to your essay. A second reading helps you to organise your ideas into some sort of logical order. Then you start writing your discussion, using this information to develop the argument that is the main body of your essay.
Remember, just including facts in your essay may not be enough. You may need to include a range of different theories and ideas, and discuss where these came from, and how they relate to each other. An essay is not just a list of facts from different sources. If that was the case, essays would simply be lists of quotes. Rather, the research you do should develop your own ideas, get your thinking about the question, and show you ways that you might answer the question. And all of your information must be organised in your reference list or bibliography.
Argument or Discussion
Academic essays usually require students to discuss, argue, explore or explain. This means more than simply describing the current state of knowledge on your topic.
The essence of the majority of academic essays is what is described as the discussion. In the discussion, you are simply showing how the information you have gathered, along with your own conclusions, can answer the essay question. It means that you are analysing the question and the theories or facts which answer it.
Analysing and discussing might mean you compare different theories or opinions, or different research findings. But the key to turning these into a proper discussion or argument is to look at these facts and decide how useful or valid they are. What are they based on? Where do the arguments come from? Can you see any flaws in the logic, or in the ideas used? Is there anything these other authors seem to have missed, or overlooked, in their writing or research? What other authors agree with a certain point? And why? And where authors disagree, why do they disagree? This is where you draw your own conclusions, where you make judgements and bring in your own opinion. Remember to come back to your question. Write your essay in order to answer the question.