How to Prepare for an Essay

Essay preparation is crucial if you are to achieve a decent grade. When you’re given a choice of essays, you might decide to write an answer to the one you think you can write the most about, without considering whether the topic actually interests you. Perhaps it is a topic you already know quite a lot about, but if you have to write over 2,000 words on a subject which you have no particular interest in, you’re probably going to struggle.

Thus, the first step you should take is to decide which essay question appeals to you most. If you’re studying the First World War and it is the social and cultural aspects, rather than the political and military aspects that interest you, there is no point trying to write an essay on one of the great battles that took place. You have to find a question which piques your interest, so that you will actually be able to motivate yourself to go into the library, pick up some books, read and take notes.

When you have an essay to write you can’t simply rely on the notes you’ve taken in lectures; you actually have to do some reading and research of your own. When you have a couple of thousand words to write it is going to be difficult for you to even approach the word limit if you are trying to rely on the basic notes you’ve taken. In order to write a decent essay you have to read a variety of different sources to inform yourself of all the debates and controversies surrounding a particular issue.

If you have a better understanding of the topic you will obviously be in a better position to write a comprehensive essay that touches on all the major issues that need to be raised. You will have a lot more to say, which will make for a much more interesting essay, and should have the added benefit of increasing the grade you receive. Tutors obviously want to see that you’ve gone to the effort of selecting relevant works beyond the bare minimum of what you’re expected to read.

Whilst you want to ensure that your bibliography contains more than one or two books, when you start reading more widely you have to be selective about the information you include in your essay. When you only have 2,000 words to play around with, you have to make them count and so you need to ensure that you actually address the question being asked. That is why it is essential for you to create an essay plan that will help you to remain aware of the points you need to make, rather than being led astray and rambling on about irrelevant facts.

Once you have completed your reading and created a plan, all that’s left to do is for you to write the essay. If you’ve done all the preparation beforehand you should find that this doesn’t take as long as you thought it would, which is why it is worth taking time to prepare thoroughly.