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How to write a first class essay

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    (Original post by Inazuma)
    How much reading would you do for your essay?
    Did you actually read all 100 articles?


    (Original post by iamyourmum)
    How much reading would you do for your essay?
    Did you actually read all 100 articles?

    On top of those 100, there were probably another 20+ I read but didn't use - things that ended up being irrelevant, cut out, or that I just used for knowledge.

    I didn't fully read all of them, no, in fact very few did I fully read. A lot I would skim read.
    Anything directly relevant, I'd try to read all of it, and get the extra references from them too. They tended to be the ones I cross referenced multiple times. I usually try not to spend too long on one source, lest my essay become a 'copy' of it essentially.
    Some I just picked out individual quotes or phrases or words, some I just referenced the overall idea, some were helpfully referenced in other articles I'd read, so I just skipped to those parts and then looked to see if there was anything else relevant - particularly where the article etc is from a different field, or a totally different study etc.
    In many, it's possible to read intro/conclusion to get what I needed (when I was using economics studies that were mainly formula/graphs for example).

    Since I have my basic outline, sometimes I'll look up an idea I had already come up with, and try to work backwards and find a source to back it up, just taking out the parts I needed directly.

    Hope that makes some sense, haha.

    What worked best for me is this:

    * before you even start reading, sit down and write a structure of your essay. This will force you to think about the topic, think about possible ways to argue and what your essay is about.

    * after that do some reading - just read introduction and conclusions of papers - and get a general idea of the area. make sure to make some notes in your structure and amend as you discover new points / ways to argue.

    * be open minded about revising your argument in face of new evidence

    * write a general frame of your essay - i.e. now that you have done some reading and made notes, expand on each point a little and think about a coherent structure to put everything in

    * finally, once you have a structure and your argument sorted, work on each part of the argument in more depth - i.e. do further reading, read papers and try to expand on each section

    * once you have expanded on each section and written all parts of your essay, go over everything again and streamline it, strengthen the arguments, remove unnecessary words, etc.

    * when you are completely finished: make sure to rewrite the introduction and conclusion - this is the first thing your markers will read and they should be perfect. if you changed arguments, etc. now is the time to rewrite your introduction!

    I generally found structure and coherent flow of the argument to be very important in getting high marks. You can have the best argument but if it's super hard to read and doesn't flow well you will not get high marks. (obviously make sure your argument is actually good, if your argument is terrible even the best structure won't get you high marks - although it will probably improve your marks somewhat).

    Source: three years of undergrad essay writing with mostly fist class marks.

    If anyone would like some examples of good essays, send me your email in a PM and I can send you some of my essays as examples.
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