So, you need to write an essay.

You were assigned it in your syllabus and you’re nervously watching the days count down as the semester starts to get into full swing. It always takes so much time and effort and it’s your worst subject. Never fear! It’s not as hard as you’re making it out to be!

A lot of people put unneeded stress and tribulation into writing an essay. They overthink, over worry, and procrastinate way too long and leave themselves too little time to actually finish their assignment. Rinse and repeat. No wonder writing an essay is thought to be a trying time.

Below are 3 tips, tricks, and pointers for all you out there that dread writing essays:

1) Make an outline.
– Seriously. Make an outline. A lot of students don’t realize how important an outline is, or how to create an effective one. Creating an effective outline is easy, use the following format to help you in the future:
Intro – (write your thesis sentence here)
Body Paragraph 1 – (The first point you want to make in your paper)
BP2
BP3
BP4…..etc
Conclusion – (make your final statements and finish strong)
DONE. That’s it. It’s that easy.

Note: A paper can have as many paragraphs as it needs. You do NOT have to stick to the typical 5 paragraph essay that you learned in highschool. A paragraph is as long as it needs to be to make it’s point, then a new one starts when you begin making a new point. It’s that easy.

You can have a 2 page paper with 8 paragraphs or a 20 page paper with 4, it really is up to the content of your essay and how many points it takes to make your argument.

2) Don’t write about something you’re not interested in at least a little bit.
– This one may sound a little far fetched, I know a lot of students are not interested in what they are going over in their classes. If you have a class in which the material does not interest you, pick your favorite topic/story out of the ones provided or allowed.

If you don’t have a favorite, pick the one that comes to mind when you read the word “favorite”. There is a reason that particular topic or story came to mind first. Explore this more. What about it is different from the rest of the stories/topics you had to choose from? What about it most lines up with your personal interests? What questions might you have about the text?

Explore the answers you come up with to those questions and you’ve got yourself the beginning of a brainstorming session or possible outline for your paper.

3) Make sure you understand what the essay is asking of you.
– The reason many students have trouble starting a paper is because, whether or not they realize it, they do not understand what the assignment/prompt is asking of them. The assignment might be a long-winded explanation of what is expected or it might be asking you to do a lot of things simultaneously.

If you are faced with this challenge, find yourself a few trusty highlighters in different colors. Highlight each additional point the assignment is asking you to touch on within your paper with a different color. When you go to write your paper, highlight each point in your outline/rough draft with the corresponding color. This way you know for SURE that you have covered all that was asked of you.

Thank you for reading and I hope these three tips are helpful! Happy writing!

If you’d like more pointers, stay tuned for future posts!

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