What constitutes a first class essay?

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Juuuuh
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What would you say distinguishes a first class essay from a second class essay? I am currently in the middle of writing an essay and sometimes I read it over and think it's good, and then I'll go back over and feel like it's crap. I am hoping to get 60% but anything better would obviously be great.

I have supported the majority of my statements with evidence or sources, I have critically evaluated throughout but a lot of lecturers mention that a first class essay requires our own creative insight? What would this actually be?

Sorry - this is my first ever university essay and the difference compared to A-Level is crazy :sad:
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Mpagtches
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An essay with an expensive stamp on it.
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SophieSmall
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(Original post by Juuuuh)
What would you say distinguishes a first class essay from a second class essay? I am currently in the middle of writing an essay and sometimes I read it over and think it's good, and then I'll go back over and feel like it's crap. I am hoping to get 60% but anything better would obviously be great.

I have supported the majority of my statements with evidence or sources, I have critically evaluated throughout but a lot of lecturers mention that a first class essay requires our own creative insight? What would this actually be?

Sorry - this is my first ever university essay and the difference compared to A-Level is crazy :sad:
You'll get better answers if you say what course you are studying and what the essays are about.

As I know it varies massively by course. As for example on my course (Biomed) you'd get a straight up fail if you didn't source every single claim. And when writing a factual essay there is absolutely no room for creative insight only facts. So this makes me think you may be studying and arts course?
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Puddles the Monkey
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(Original post by Juuuuh)
What would you say distinguishes a first class essay from a second class essay? I am currently in the middle of writing an essay and sometimes I read it over and think it's good, and then I'll go back over and feel like it's crap. I am hoping to get 60% but anything better would obviously be great.

I have supported the majority of my statements with evidence or sources, I have critically evaluated throughout but a lot of lecturers mention that a first class essay requires our own creative insight? What would this actually be?

Sorry - this is my first ever university essay and the difference compared to A-Level is crazy :sad:
What subject is this for?

You need to support *every* statement with evidence/sources. It also helps to critically evaluate the arguments made in whatever secondary literature you've been reading.
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Juuuuh
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(Original post by SophieSmall)
You'll get better answers if you say what course you are studying and what the essays are about.

As I know it varies massively by course. As for example on my course (Biomed) you'd get a straight up fail if you didn't source every single claim. And when writing a factual essay there is absolutely no room for creative insight only facts. So this makes me think you may be studying and arts course?
Sorry I thought I had commented what I was studying, it's Psychology. They say to use critical insight so I'm not sure how that is possible either...

(Original post by Puddles the Monkey)
What subject is this for?

You need to support *every* statement with evidence/sources. It also helps to critically evaluate the arguments made in whatever secondary literature you've been reading.
Psychology, sorry! I thought I mentioned that. With critical evaluation is this having two sides of an argument?
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Puddles the Monkey
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(Original post by Juuuuh)
Sorry I thought I had commented what I was studying, it's Psychology. They say to use critical insight so I'm not sure how that is possible either...

Psychology, sorry! I thought I mentioned that. With critical evaluation is this having two sides of an argument?
Hm, kind of. It's about assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the argument. I guess for psychology (I've never studied psychology) you'd have to look at methods used, and any flaws in the research - how many people were part of the study? What factors did they control for? That kind of thing.
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Ethereal World
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For a first class essay, my advice would be:

1. Think outside the box- The question is fixed but you can maybe look into different angles or different ways of structuring the answer. Remember everyone is going to do a standard response- do something different, whilst of course staying on track
2. Present novel research- Especially if you have been taught or directed to a number of papers or textbooks- see what you can find in the literature
3. Read read read, but not necessarily to include it in your essay. I found that when I did a load of reading around a subject, I performed better. I think if you read a lot of stuff, you then build clarity in your mind on the arguments for and against and you will just write better- and your writing will 'sound' more informed. Sometimes I read papers that I didn't directly include in my answer or cite, but they helped me to understand the bigger picture.
4. Go above and beyond- If there are a couple of papers or a couple of leading people in the area of your essay- contact the academics/authors. A couple of times when I was at uni I did this. I contacted the authors to see what had changed since they published or what their current views of the situation are/research they were currently doing. This helped me to have a unique perspective and to be thinking in current times.
5. Structure- it's really important to have good structure of course. Use your opening paragraph to set the scene of how you're going to go about tackling the question and then your answer will follow more logically and clearly.
6. Less is more- Most people have to cut their word count down at the end of an essay or they nearly always max out on words (so word count +10% or whatever). Being succinct and potentially coming in a few hundred words below the limit shows confidence and maturity. It will also be refreshing for the marker. Word limits are randomly imposed- you could write thousands and thousands of words on any subject. It's important to be concise and definitely don't sacrifice that just to get your words up. Of course, it is definitely worth checking what the minimum number of words is.

Getting a 1st is about differentiation. Following a standard template, citing standard references that you've looked at in lectures or the lecturer has pointed out, is gonna max you out somewhere in the 60s, irrelevant of how well you write. You've got to do that bit extra to lift yourself into the 70s. The above is what I did in my final year and I transformed high 60s marks into high 70s and sometimes even low 80s.

EDIT: another easy thing to do, is to approach the person (if you feel confident enough) who is delivering that course/module and ask them what they want to see or what they would be looking for in a first class essay. I started doing this and it seriously transformed how I approached essays, when I realised the types of things that they were looking for.
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RPNL
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Have you not been given a breakdown of what distinguishes between the classes? If its your first essay for University too I wouldn't put much pressure on yourself.

If it involves the use of reading journals for your referencing etc, make sure you don't use a review as a reference as that's a 'piss poor research technique' instead look at the reviews references, this can help towards a first. Although i'm not too sure if psychology uses journals etc for essays?

good luck
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Juuuuh
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(Original post by ew296)
For a first class essay, my advice would be:

1. Think outside the box- The question is fixed but you can maybe look into different angles or different ways of structuring the answer. Remember everyone is going to do a standard response- do something different, whilst of course staying on track
2. Present novel research- Especially if you have been taught or directed to a number of papers or textbooks- see what you can find in the literature
3. Read read read, but not necessarily to include it in your essay. I found that when I did a load of reading around a subject, I performed better. I think if you read a lot of stuff, you then build clarity in your mind on the arguments for and against and you will just write better- and your writing will 'sound' more informed. Sometimes I read papers that I didn't directly include in my answer or cite, but they helped me to understand the bigger picture.
4. Go above and beyond- If there are a couple of papers or a couple of leading people in the area of your essay- contact the academics/authors. A couple of times when I was at uni I did this. I contacted the authors to see what had changed since they published or what their current views of the situation are/research they were currently doing. This helped me to have a unique perspective and to be thinking in current times.
5. Structure- it's really important to have good structure of course. Use your opening paragraph to set the scene of how you're going to go about tackling the question and then your answer will follow more logically and clearly.
6. Less is more- Most people have to cut their word count down at the end of an essay or they nearly always max out on words (so word count +10% or whatever). Being succinct and potentially coming in a few hundred words below the limit shows confidence and maturity. It will also be refreshing for the marker. Word limits are randomly imposed- you could write thousands and thousands of words on any subject. It's important to be concise and definitely don't sacrifice that just to get your words up. Of course, it is definitely worth checking what the minimum number of words is.

Getting a 1st is about differentiation. Following a standard template, citing standard references that you've looked at in lectures or the lecturer has pointed out, is gonna max you out somewhere in the 60s, irrelevant of how well you write. You've got to do that bit extra to lift yourself into the 70s. The above is what I did in my final year and I transformed high 60s marks into high 70s and sometimes even low 80s.

EDIT: another easy thing to do, is to approach the person (if you feel confident enough) who is delivering that course/module and ask them what they want to see or what they would be looking for in a first class essay. I started doing this and it seriously transformed how I approached essays, when I realised the types of things that they were looking for.
This was incredibly helpful so thank you for taking the time to write this! I will be applying some of these to my essay no doubt. It was just nice to see what I need to do in writing haha
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