Time Management as a Key Point for Successful Essay Writing
May 26, 2017|Category: Freelance Writing, Writing Tips
Time is something one can lose and never get back. In spite of the fact that a daily cycle consists of a twenty-four hour period, there are so many people wishing to have much more time available during the day. No one can control the time; however, proper time management is in our power. The realization of this fact is an essential step towards successful essay writing, especially when the deadline of the academic assignment is too tight, or it simply has been postponed till the last minute.
Nevertheless, even being pressed for time, you still have some good chances to write an essay of the very best quality. Let me guide you how to use your time effectively.
1. Disconnect from technology. Ban yourself from all social networks and answer only important phone calls. Being distracted from the process of writing a paper is the last thing you need if your aim is to use your time effectively and produce a decent piece of work in a short period of time. Find a quiet place to get the right mindset and leave all sneaking or edgy feelings behind. It’s too early to feel defeated before the actual fight has started. Under such circumstances, it’s so important to stay positive and rest assured that you can do it. Keep the final aim in mind, you’re gonna do a good job and impress your professor.
2. Read the instructions thoughtfully. Following the initial instructions when you write an essay is of crucial importance and the easiest way to lose grades in case of failing to do so. Make sure that you understand the task, and after that pay close attention to the length of the paper and its word count. This will help you to understand how in depth your academic assignment should be. Also, note how many sources you need to use, and take your best efforts to always stick to the number of references requested. Citation style can be time-consuming, but you can focus on it after the paper itself has been written, and you will simply need to polish it to perfection.
3. Carry out basic research and write a brief outline. It may be so enticing to simply start writing a paper and do research or plan things to be included as you go; however, such actions can take you off the track. Having a good knowledge of the topic and relevant sources will help you to understand if your thesis statement can be properly defended. When conducting research, choose only credible sources, such as books and online journals; try not to over-quote as well. Remember that not all Internet sources can be cited, e.g. Wikipedia is a useful source of information, but is not a credible source. When you’re finally ready to get started, do not forget to refer to your outline to make sure that you’re on the right track. In addition, make sure that your arguments are strong enough to support your thesis statement.
4. Work on introduction and conclusion. Probably surprisingly, but these parts of an essay should be saved for last. No one will argue that these bits are the hardest to write. However, by the time the body of the paper has been written, the introduction and conclusion parts should be much easier since you’re already familiar with the argument.
5. Save some time for proofreading. Having a final check is a vital thing to do. Has the title page, in-text-citations, and references been formatted according to the style requested? Is the paper written in compliance with the accepted academic writing rules? What about the sentence and paragraph structure? Is the paper free of typos, spelling, grammatical and lexical mistakes? Has the initial paper instructions been followed to the full? The paper is worth a quick final read and critical look.
Congratulation! You’ve coped with one the toughest academic assignments and proved that due to proper time management you won’t simply give up at the first hurdle. Treat yourself to a bar of chocolate or go out for the evening, you’ve worked hard and deserve a reward!
At university level, it's more important than ever to approach your work in the right way. Discover how to plan, write and evaluate your essay in order to achieve top marks
Taking the time to properly plan an essay can lead to higher grades, with examiners welcoming a logical structure that clearly communicates your understanding of the subject. However, knowing where to begin and how to go about completing the assignment is not always easy - especially if you've not had to write at undergraduate level before and are still adjusting to university life.
Learning how to write an essay early on will help you prepare for writing your dissertation in your final year.
We've asked two academic experts how they would recommend planning and writing a first-class essay.
Planning your essay will make the writing process quicker and easier
Adopt a strategy
Planning your essay will make the writing process quicker and easier. You'll be able to focus on expressing your ideas while remaining within the word count, rather than having to organise your thoughts as you write.
Michael Shields, academic skills tutor at Leeds Beckett University, argues that there are numerous different planning strategies - though key stages generally include evaluating the topic, doing your research around it and formulating an argument.
'Many successful essay writers plan consciously and deliberately, and commit to extensive notes, lists or mind maps,' he says. 'Some - those who work less consciously - may have a very sketchy plan.
'Others, however, will have no tangible plan at all and begin by writing a draft. They then do their planning in reverse by altering the order of ideas, adding examples and expanding on their original draft.'
Address the topic
First and foremost, you must fully understand what you're being asked and in how much depth you're required to answer the question. Michael says that one of the biggest problems students face when it comes to essays is squarely addressing the topic.
'Your fellow students can sometimes help you analyse what's required,' adds Michael. 'However, you may have to approach the lecturer who devised the essay to understand what precisely is being asked and the complexity of the response expected from you.'
Breaking up the title is the first step to analysing exactly what you should be exploring in the essay. For example, the question, 'Compare and contrast the representation of masculinity in two James Bond films from the 1960s and 2000s', can be classified like this:
- instruction (i.e. compare and contrast)
- topic (i.e. the representation of masculinity)
- focus (i.e. in two James Bond films)
- further information (i.e. from the 1960s and 2000s).
Place the question and these individual components in the context of your subject's key issues, then create a list, diagram or mind map collating your ideas and thoughts on the essay topic. Ask yourself:
- What is significant about the question and its topic?
- What existing knowledge do you have that will help you answer this question?
- What do you need to find out?
- How are you going to successfully address this question?
- What logical sequence will your ideas appear in?
With so much information available, it's vital that you only look for directly relevant material when researching
With so much information available, it's vital that you only look for directly relevant material when researching. 'Decide where the gaps in your knowledge and understanding are, and identify the areas where you need more supporting evidence,' Michael recommends. 'Make a list of keywords that describe the topic and use them to search with.'
Useful resources include:
- course material
- lecture notes
- library books
- journal articles
Once you've done your research, create another mind map. Carefully note the key theories, information and quotes that will help you to answer all components of the question. Consider grouping these into three or four main themes, including only the most significant points. You must be ruthless and exclude ideas that don't fit in seamlessly with your essay's focus.
Create an essay plan
When you have a good idea of what points you're going to address in your discussion, and a rough idea of the order in which these will appear, you're ready to start planning. There are two main ways to do this:
- Linear plans are useful for essays requiring a rigid structure. They provide a chronological breakdown of the key points you're going to address. This means that, when writing your essay, you can progress through these points.
- Tabular plans are best for comparative assignments. You'll be able to better visualise how the points you're contrasting differ across several aspects. This should hopefully give you a clearer picture of how your discussion will progress.
Scrutinise the notes that you've already made - including those from your evaluation of relevant materials from your literature search - and ensure that they're placed into a logical order.
The key themes that you've identified should begin to form into clear sections, while the individual points within these sections should also develop a structure. 'Aim for a clear, objective and logical presentation of material,' Michael suggests.
Tackle the introduction and conclusion
Michael recommends that you begin writing your essay by expanding your plan. 'You may find it helpful to write the conclusion first, especially if you know exactly what it is you want to argue,' he adds. 'This can help you to clarify your ideas and also give you something to work towards.
'If you're unsure what shape your argument may take, you're best to leave both your introduction and conclusion until last.'
Plans should have the flexibility to change as your work develops, but remember to ensure that any adjustments are consistent across the essay. Dr Michelle Reid, study adviser at the University of Reading, suggests that noting new ideas in a separate document before incorporating them will give you thinking space to judge whether they're relevant.
'The success of a plan is not whether you stick to it rigidly, but how well it helps you to generate, sort and group your ideas to make the writing process more efficient and your structure more coherent,' she says. 'Deviating from your plan is natural, as your ideas will refine as you work out what you really think.'
Evaluate what you've written
Once you've written your first draft, leave it aside for a couple of days if possible. When you return, edit its ideas and how you've organised your thoughts if you need to. Michael adds that, while rereading the draft, you should ask yourself:
- Is your thesis or argument clear?
- Have your organised your proof in a logical and easy-to-follow way?
- Should you add more examples to prove your case?
- Do you need to make your argument more cohesive?
- Have you summed up appropriately?
Once you've completed your second edit, you should proofread it for any spelling or grammar errors, check your citations and references, and ensure that you've not inadvertently plagiarised.
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Written by Emma Knowles, Editorial assistant