80% in an essay? Watch

Dinasaurus
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Has anyone ever received 80%+ in an essay at uni, I'm setting myself the goal of getting 80% in one piece of work in my 2nd year.

My average essay is probably around a 2:1 and my best was only 71%, what are some tips you have to go above and beyond?
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claireestelle
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(Original post by Dinasaurus)
Has anyone ever received 80%+ in an essay at uni, I'm setting myself the goal of getting 80% in one piece of work in my 2nd year.

My average essay is probably around a 2:1 and my best was only 71%, what are some tips you have to go above and beyond?
I ve never gotten 80% before but for those I know that have they were brilliant at critical analysis and finding the best references.
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UWS
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70% was my highest for a critical analysis style essay. Hard to get top marks...
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cherryred90s
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(Original post by Dinasaurus)
Has anyone ever received 80%+ in an essay at uni, I'm setting myself the goal of getting 80% in one piece of work in my 2nd year.

My average essay is probably around a 2:1 and my best was only 71%, what are some tips you have to go above and beyond?
Nope. Highest I've gotten is 68%
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username1221160
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Gabriel Garcia Marquez said that to become a great writer you must first read everything by great writers. The same holds true in academia. Read and look to emulate the professional academic writing produced by those further up the food chain. For me, a biology student, this involved reading literature reviews and learning to mimic the succinct cogent style.

Look to minimise your reliance on lecture material (the marker doesn't want their own lectures repeated back to them) and focus on further reading. You also need to to bring in left field arguments, including from outside your subject. For example, a biology student cold look to philosophy and chemistry journals. You also need to be highly self-critical and constantly look for flaws in what you have written.

Ultimately it comes down to graft. I've hit 80-85s at both undergraduate and masters level, including for my undergraduate dissertation. I can't say this was really down to any great ability, just the willingness to sit at a desk for 12 hours a day, often only churning out 500 words.
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Joeyzanelli
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(Original post by Quantex)
Gabriel Garcia Marquez said that to become a great writer you must first read everything by great writers. The same holds true in academia. Read and look to emulate the professional academic writing produced by those further up the food chain. For me, a biology student, this involved reading literature reviews and learning to mimic the succinct cogent style.

Look to minimise your reliance on lecture material (the marker doesn't want their own lectures repeated back to them) and focus on further reading. You also need to to bring in left field arguments, including from outside your subject. For example, a biology student cold look to philosophy and chemistry journals. You also need to be highly self-critical and constantly look for flaws in what you have written.

Ultimately it comes down to graft. I've hit 80-85s at both undergraduate and masters level, including for my undergraduate dissertation. I can't say this was really down to any great ability, just the willingness to sit at a desk for 12 hours a day, often only churning out 500 words.
This is a great answer
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Reality Check
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(Original post by Quantex)
For me, a biology student, this involved reading literature reviews and learning to mimic the succinct cogent style.
This is it, isn't it? Sparse...
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UoNAnonymous
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(Original post by Dinasaurus)
Has anyone ever received 80%+ in an essay at uni, I'm setting myself the goal of getting 80% in one piece of work in my 2nd year.

My average essay is probably around a 2:1 and my best was only 71%, what are some tips you have to go above and beyond?
I have received 80 in an essay. Only once. The second highest I've received is 76.
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Dinasaurus
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(Original post by UoNAnonymous)
I have received 80 in an essay. Only once. The second highest I've received is 76.
How much time did you put into it, did you do a draft?
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UoNAnonymous
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(Original post by Dinasaurus)
How much time did you put into it, did you do a draft?
I always make quite a thorough plan for my essays. I did that over a few days then wrote it in about 4 days (it was 3000 words). From making my plan to finishing my essay, I regularly communicated with my lecturer to ensure that I was on the right path and to get their suggestions on improvements.
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Klix88
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I got 90% for two essays - one first year and one third year.

Reading was the key for me. As much as possible Get as many useful and appropriate sources of info in there as possible. For a 1500 word first year essay I used a minimum of 20 references. By the 3000 word third year essays, I aimed for 40-50 at least. Find academics who are arguing with each other, present both views and if possible, decide which you agree with and explain why. If you can find something by the person who set the essay, it never hurts to use it in a positive way. Never underestimate the hubris of academics!

Referencing correctly is also easy percentages when you get the hang of it.
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TheWorm1234
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I got 80% in an essay worth 10% of the unit grade in what was supposed to be a group project, I wrote it all as the rest were too lazy or what they sent me was barely legible as English. My advice is don't ever be in a group with mates.
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InvisibleDuck
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I'm averaging about 80%. Lowest was 71, highest was 90. I'd agree with those above who say that reading is the key. Use the texts your lecturers recommend as starting points, and when you find an interesting or relevant point, follow up the references they've used to support it. That, and lots of journal articles. Another tip is not to try to shoehorn in too much of what you've read - I did this in first year, and while the essays got fairly good marks (mostly mid-70s), reading back I can see that I included too many points and didn't discuss them in enough depth, because I wanted to show off all my extra reading! Sometimes less is more.

I had a strange way of working, too. I'd do all the reading, think it over, create a fairly detailed essay plan, and then leave it for a couple of weeks. Then, if the essay was 3000 words or less, I'd write the whole thing in a single day, sometimes perilously close to the deadline.
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LizzieTwoShoes
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I've got a 98% in an Essay on Breast Cancer metastasis for my first year.

I made a very detailed plan before I started and only used books or research papers related to the topic which was worth about 20% of the grade just on references.

I also made so many drafts and rechecked it continuously for the two weeks we had to complete it.

In other modules I've gotten 84%, 89% etc.

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jelly1000
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I think a lot depends on the subject and department. My experience has been that in the humanities you are far less likely to see marks of 80%+ than in Science, 80% is almost considered a ceiling unless work is of publishable standard. And I get the sense that different departments (across and within unis) within the humanities are more strict than others about the highest marks they will give out than others.

My highest essay mark was 76% closely followed by a 75% mark, in both cases I already had oppinions on the essay subjects (freedom of speech and realism respectively) and it was just a case of finding texts that backed me up. Both marks were achieved during my undergraduate course, for context across all the modules I took as part of that of all the essays submitted by all the students on all 16 modules there was only ever one essay marked in the 80-89% bracket and none in the 90+% bracket and that was a History module. I never heard or saw any essay mark at 80%+ in Politics.
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Liv1204
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I got 90% in two of my second year BSc essay exams, 80% in my favourite (Forensic Psych) BSc (third year) essay, and in my MSc got 78% for my first (Sport Psych) essay, 80% for my two Research Methods essays, and 85% for my Exercise & Health essay. So it is possible.

How to do it?

Well...I didn't ever go to lectures at undergrad or to the library (3x in 3 years...do as I say, not as I do). But what I did do was use readings at home. Primary sources as much as possible - uni library/online journal sources obviously, Google Scholar, etc etc. Try to avoid relying too much on secondary sources - textbooks etc - but they are useful for basic overviews, and for giving you ideas for what to look up or focus on.

At MSc level I did attend every lecture/seminar and went to library every time I was in uni (only 2 days a week for full-time). But pretty much the same principle - primary sources, online journals.

For higher marks, I recommend:

A good introduction! I am lazy with introductions. But keep working on them and rewriting. How they are supposed to be will differ. Personally I hate the 'This essay will discuss' approach, but some expect that.
Good critical analysis skills - link your points together. Make your arguments flow. Discuss counterarguments, but back up your points for why you believe your argument is stronger. Discuss where relevant: methodology concerns, limitations of research, generalisability, practical implications of arguments, etc, what your argument would mean for subject.
A good conclusion! Again, see above re. introduction. But a good conclusion should sum up your argument effectively.

As an example of my highest MSc essay (85%) (exercise & anorexia), it went basically along these lines:

Introduction - Define general topic (positive correlations with exercise in healthy population). Link to EDs (less positive associations). Define anorexia nervosa; prevalence, exercise stats, treatment etc. State question: Exercise suggested as useful addition to treatment of AN, raising question: how can a symptom be used as a treatment?

Point 1 - Furhter detail on exercise in individuals with AN; stats & correlations. Explain why therefore exercise restriction often recommended.

Point 2 - Introduce more recent notion of incorporating exercise into treatment programmes. Explain debate over issue, using referenced arguments (but include limitations, e.g. non-clinical samples --> not generalisable, may differ).

Point 3 - Discuss studies which haven't found negative correlations between EDs/exercise. (Again use counter-arguments).

Point 4 - Explain conceptual framework for essay topic (e.g. here, benefits of exercise in treatment through enhancing self-esteem, body image, mood)

Point 5 - Counterargument - discuss other explanations of findings (e.g. ED/exercise --> improved mood. But may perpetuate dysfunctional ED/exercise-related thoughts? Reinforcing effect of exercise?) Discuss how reasons for exercising importance as well as amount of exercise, per se (again with references). Explain implications of findings: e.g. treatment programs should aim to help develop more positive exercise beliefs

Point 6 - Flow from mention of treatment programs to discussing how to increase effectiveness of exercise interventions in ED treatment programs - e.g. what studies have included and findings of studies. Again consider caution of studies. Sum up why psychoeducational component in treatment is ideal setting to learn to incorporate exercise in adaptive manner.

Point 7 - Future research recommendations E.g. base interventions on theory and guidelines, standardised treatments, consider study eligibility and who would benefit from particular intervention.

Point 8 - Go further into methodological limitations (with examples/references), and again recommendations for future research.

Point 9 - Despite limitations, some evidence has supported... etc etc. Summarise positive findings from intervention studies, and why this may be case, although considering counter-arguments.

Point 10 - Further (linked) concern (in my essay this was paragraph on another ethical concern), followed by counterargument and references, and conclusion that there is clear rationale for (my argument).

Point 11 - Point on how to limit above concerns (e.g. here, by considering type/amount of exercise), considering stats/findings from studies using various types, and why one may be more effective than other. Again further research recommendation.

Conclusion - Sum up - e.g. contentious issue; as yet, no consensus; ethical concerns; but potential benefits of incorporating exercise for ED. Future research recommendations


Obviously that is pretty long and is based on my own essay so will vary! But basically, lots and lots of referencing, evidence for points and implications of what findings mean, counter-arguments, counter-counter arguments, theoretical rationales and how they work in practical, discuss study limitations and make recommendations etc.
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The Empire Odyssey
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(Original post by Liv1204)
I got 90% in two of my second year BSc essay exams, 80% in my favourite (Forensic Psych) BSc (third year) essay, and in my MSc got 78% for my first (Sport Psych) essay, 80% for my two Research Methods essays, and 85% for my Exercise & Health essay. So it is possible.

How to do it?

Well...I didn't ever go to lectures at undergrad or to the library (3x in 3 years...do as I say, not as I do). But what I did do was use readings at home. Primary sources as much as possible - uni library/online journal sources obviously, Google Scholar, etc etc. Try to avoid relying too much on secondary sources - textbooks etc - but they are useful for basic overviews, and for giving you ideas for what to look up or focus on.

At MSc level I did attend every lecture/seminar and went to library every time I was in uni (only 2 days a week for full-time). But pretty much the same principle - primary sources, online journals.

For higher marks, I recommend:

A good introduction! I am lazy with introductions. But keep working on them and rewriting. How they are supposed to be will differ. Personally I hate the 'This essay will discuss' approach, but some expect that.
Good critical analysis skills - link your points together. Make your arguments flow. Discuss counterarguments, but back up your points for why you believe your argument is stronger. Discuss where relevant: methodology concerns, limitations of research, generalisability, practical implications of arguments, etc, what your argument would mean for subject.
A good conclusion! Again, see above re. introduction. But a good conclusion should sum up your argument effectively.

As an example of my highest MSc essay (85%) (exercise & anorexia), it went basically along these lines:

Introduction - Define general topic (positive correlations with exercise in healthy population). Link to EDs (less positive associations). Define anorexia nervosa; prevalence, exercise stats, treatment etc. State question: Exercise suggested as useful addition to treatment of AN, raising question: how can a symptom be used as a treatment?

Point 1 - Furhter detail on exercise in individuals with AN; stats & correlations. Explain why therefore exercise restriction often recommended.

Point 2 - Introduce more recent notion of incorporating exercise into treatment programmes. Explain debate over issue, using referenced arguments (but include limitations, e.g. non-clinical samples --> not generalisable, may differ).

Point 3 - Discuss studies which haven't found negative correlations between EDs/exercise. (Again use counter-arguments).

Point 4 - Explain conceptual framework for essay topic (e.g. here, benefits of exercise in treatment through enhancing self-esteem, body image, mood)

Point 5 - Counterargument - discuss other explanations of findings (e.g. ED/exercise --> improved mood. But may perpetuate dysfunctional ED/exercise-related thoughts? Reinforcing effect of exercise?) Discuss how reasons for exercising importance as well as amount of exercise, per se (again with references). Explain implications of findings: e.g. treatment programs should aim to help develop more positive exercise beliefs

Point 6 - Flow from mention of treatment programs to discussing how to increase effectiveness of exercise interventions in ED treatment programs - e.g. what studies have included and findings of studies. Again consider caution of studies. Sum up why psychoeducational component in treatment is ideal setting to learn to incorporate exercise in adaptive manner.

Point 7 - Future research recommendations E.g. base interventions on theory and guidelines, standardised treatments, consider study eligibility and who would benefit from particular intervention.

Point 8 - Go further into methodological limitations (with examples/references), and again recommendations for future research.

Point 9 - Despite limitations, some evidence has supported... etc etc. Summarise positive findings from intervention studies, and why this may be case, although considering counter-arguments.

Point 10 - Further (linked) concern (in my essay this was paragraph on another ethical concern), followed by counterargument and references, and conclusion that there is clear rationale for (my argument).

Point 11 - Point on how to limit above concerns (e.g. here, by considering type/amount of exercise), considering stats/findings from studies using various types, and why one may be more effective than other. Again further research recommendation.

Conclusion - Sum up - e.g. contentious issue; as yet, no consensus; ethical concerns; but potential benefits of incorporating exercise for ED. Future research recommendations


Obviously that is pretty long and is based on my own essay so will vary! But basically, lots and lots of referencing, evidence for points and implications of what findings mean, counter-arguments, counter-counter arguments, theoretical rationales and how they work in practical, discuss study limitations and make recommendations etc.
I would love to read this essay if you will allow it!
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saharan_skies
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can I read it too? I love reading dissertations from Uni students. They usually have very fresh ideas about topical matters ^^
(Original post by The Empire Odyssey)
I would love to read this essay if you will allow it!
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doodle_333
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I got a bunch of grades around 85%.

The first thing is you HAVE to write well. You can't have poor English, rambling etc. It must be concise and have really exact language and be written with appropriate formality.

The next thing is that you have to have something different. If all your references are from the lecture slides or appear in 75% of the essays a lecturer reads they aren't going to be impressed. You need some unusual arguments/references.

You also need to be really critical about the sources you use and the arguments you make. This isn't an A level tick the box critique but a level headed assessment on the limitations of the results you talk about e.g. can they be generalised to the whole population, have they been repeated, are they outdated. What do other people think? There's nothing wrong with using other people's critiques as long as you reference them.

You should always show more than one viewpoint.

My 'process' for writing essays went like this:
1. general research into the topic - I would just compile several pages on notes on lots of different references/points - I did this with no expectations and used books as well as the internet/journals so I could get a wide variety of different points
2. condense notes into a formal plan - what are my main points, which refs will I keep for each point and what order works best to link/contrast the points... at this point I probably lose 50% of my notes and only choose the most relevant and the best and I'll play with the order a bit until I'm confident I've got a really coherant narrative through the essay
3.I usually write the body of the essay next and then finish with the intro/conclusion because often the narrative changes a little as I write and think certain things sound better/worse... so I write a general intro to the topic and a conclusion based on the essay - the essay is always way over the word count by this point
4. I leave the essay for a week so I can come back to it with fresh eyes and then I work on cutting out unnecessary or less useful references/sentences/paragraphs and rewriting anything I can in a more concise way and if I see anything I don't like e.g. structure I change it here. Sometimes this is very little work and sometimes I decide i need to restructure the whole thing because it's not flowing well.
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Liv1204
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(Original post by The Empire Odyssey)
I would love to read this essay if you will allow it!
(Original post by saharan_skies)
can I read it too? I love reading dissertations from Uni students. They usually have very fresh ideas about topical matters ^^
I am very happy to send you both if you want to message me e-mail addresses!
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