How to get 80+ on an essay at uni?

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TrotskyiteRebel
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#1
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#1
When I work on an essay I get 70-75 on it but never 80 I know 80 is possible, not 90, but definitely 80 is possible and some people do get it. How can you make a 70 essay to an 80? Have you ever gotten 80?
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Tanqueray91
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#2
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#2
(Original post by TrotskyiteRebel)
When I work on an essay I get 70-75 on it but never 80 I know 80 is possible, not 90, but definitely 80 is possible and some people do get it. How can you make a 70 essay to an 80? Have you ever gotten 80?
Have you taken one of your past essays to your lecturer/seminar leader/marker and asked what could've been done better? I usually find for my essays it's the critique of what you're writing about which can do with improvement, but there're also simple things which you can pick up a surprisingly good number of marks for no effort... Well presented, and easy to read. References done properly...
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gjd800
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#3
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#3
I didn't drop below an 80 in my final year, but I chose my modules to basically guarantee that (played to my specialisms). I have given a couple of 80s in my latest batch of marking. The main things are to be coherent, reference well, format well, have an original argument, or an argument with signs of some originality. But that's only philosophy, can't speak for others.
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LeapingLucy
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#4
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#4
At my uni they never give marks above 75
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lilGem
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#5
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#5
I got an 80 on my latest masters essay, honestly not sure how I did it. I just made good use of the journals I found, offered a novel insight into an area and evaluated the journal articles the way through.

(This is for a masters in Oncology so marking will likely be different for an UG/ humanities)

edit: it was a 1000 word essay
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DrawTheLine
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#6
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#6
I'm a first year and just submitted my first essays a week and a half ago. I'm so nervous! I have no idea if they're good or not. I wrote in a similar style to how I did at A-Level, obviously including my own independent reading however I'm not sure if they're good enough. The limit was only 1000 words so I couldn't go into much detail about the studies or concepts being referred to, so I'm worried that the markers won't think I understand the topic and therefore give me a low mark. I spent 4 months working on them and re-read them so many times. How can I make sure my understanding comes through with a low word limit?
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Tanqueray91
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#7
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#7
(Original post by DrawTheLine)
I'm a first year and just submitted my first essays a week and a half ago. I'm so nervous! I have no idea if they're good or not. I wrote in a similar style to how I did at A-Level, obviously including my own independent reading however I'm not sure if they're good enough. The limit was only 1000 words so I couldn't go into much detail about the studies or concepts being referred to, so I'm worried that the markers won't think I understand the topic and therefore give me a low mark. I spent 4 months working on them and re-read them so many times. How can I make sure my understanding comes through with a low word limit?
As you say, it's incredibly difficult with such a low word limit... for me at least, first year was a lot more sympathetic to 2nd/final year, and there was some good guidance given in terms of how to improve. I've found that after first year, they pulled back on the word limits, and so I could express what I wanted to say more freely, without the constriction... I always comb through taking out anything that *really* isn't needed (I don't get why some people need to add 'thus' or other words which increase the word count). I try and take a quote/theory from elsewhere, and within the same sentence immediately critique it, before then taking some time to explain why. This allows me to make sure I get the point across that I disagree and why, even if I can't fully explain the (in)tuition behind it...
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Arima
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#8
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#8
90+ is a myth.. the highest ive ever gotten on anything is 89 on an exam that was 99% recycled past paper qs.
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TrotskyiteRebel
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#9
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#9
(Original post by Arima)
90+ is a myth.. the highest ive ever gotten on anything is 89 on an exam that was 99% recycled past paper qs.
We had one person who got a 90 in his dissertation but that was the only time in the history of the department. That was the only person who gor 90.
Some
Universities use RAW/UMS marks. You know like in A levels. But our uni doesn’t (Edinburgh) . Idk if that helps things.
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TrotskyiteRebel
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#10
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#10
(Original post by gjd800)
I didn't drop below an 80 in my final year, but I chose my modules to basically guarantee that (played to my specialisms). I have given a couple of 80s in my latest batch of marking. The main things are to be coherent, reference well, format well, have an original argument, or an argument with signs of some originality. But that's only philosophy, can't speak for others.
That’s reassuring. Which uni was it if you don’t mind me asking?
Maybe it varies by university.
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username2789280
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#11
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#11
70 - 75 is great; if you're in a social science subject and you're consistently pulling that kind of mark, you'll graduate near the top of your class.

80 is nice, but a bonus. Marking is also highly subjective; although marks are moderated or perhaps even double-marked, a high first might be marked at 75 by one grader and 80 by another. It's not really something you can aim at.

I think I got one mark of 80 at undergrad, in my dissertation, and a couple in taught units at masters. My advice is just aim to write excellent essays every time; make 70 your target and just write as well as you can. Eventually you'll produce something great and have the marks to show it. Don't worry if you never get an 80 - it's exceptional and highly variable by marker/institution.
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Principo
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#12
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#12
I recently received an 88% on an essay in a second year social psychology course. The prof's remarks gave the impression the organization of the essay was key.
"Good use of headings and organization of information. Your paper was very easy to follow and the perfect length!"

Often we, especially in social sciences, want to write in a poetic or interesting way, but concise and methodological organization will get you points with the marker.
Always aim for the maximum length or slightly less, while still being concise. Edit out everything that isn't necessary. For a 2000 word essay, I've often written 3000 only to edit out 1000 unnecessary words. Minimum length essays tend to get lower marks.

Do some relevant "above and beyond" research to show you've really done your work. It can also help you add novel points in your paper that other students won't have. Creative angles that distinguish your paper from the possibly hundreds of other essays, a mark of idiosyncrasy, will definitely help your mark.
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notrell
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#13
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#13
(Original post by Principo)
I recently received an 88% on an essay in a second year social psychology course. The prof's remarks gave the impression the organization of the essay was key.
"Good use of headings and organization of information. Your paper was very easy to follow and the perfect length!"

Often we, especially in social sciences, want to write in a poetic or interesting way, but concise and methodological organization will get you points with the marker.
Always aim for the maximum length or slightly less, while still being concise. Edit out everything that isn't necessary. For a 2000 word essay, I've often written 3000 only to edit out 1000 unnecessary words. Minimum length essays tend to get lower marks.

Do some relevant "above and beyond" research to show you've really done your work. It can also help you add novel points in your paper that other students won't have. Creative angles that distinguish your paper from the possibly hundreds of other essays, a mark of idiosyncrasy, will definitely help your mark.
starting my first term doing social policy and this was very helpful, thank you
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LittleSkink
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#14
Report 8 months ago
#14
Had to chip in, I have been an zero hours academic in a business school for about 10 years, and get to do quite a bit of marking for UG and PG

My top tips for high grades (actually any academic work):
Read the question and answer it. Even a well written assignment will fail if it is off topic and not a "valid attempt at answering the question"

Read the marking grid (and the weightings) ! Make sure you understand it, make sure the tutor explains how they will use it to grade your work. If possible, try and look at some work at different grades - as a tutor I always share extracts from previous assignments and expect my students to be able to grade their own work

Read the feedback. If your tutor gives you poor feedback ask for more, as a minimum what was good (and why) and what needs to improve (and how). When we mark work we have to chose a mark for each marking grid criteria and justify that, decent tutors will help improve the bits you need to - I always suggest ways to get better marks

Make sure it is organised and easy to read, I cant give you good marks if the writing is a mess and I dont see how it relates to the marking grid. I cant give you good marks if I dont know what you are on about.

Make a good first impression, tutors are human and have a lot of assignments to read, and after a while they begin to blur in to each other. If I start reading an assignment and it "okay" with the usual suspects in the references section then it is tempting to scan read and give a middling mark. I always read the end carefully though, because some students do a great intro and run out of steam - that's usually a sign they didn't plan the work, they just sat down and wrote it from start to finish

As you progress from year to year what a 1st/Distinction looks like changes, its hard to define but you know it when you see it. Generally 70/80+ assignments are a bit different to mainstream answers (IME) they need to (i) go beyond taught material (ii) demonstrate balance and criticality etc that is unusual for that year / cohort / subject (iii) demonstrate creativity in approaching the question or answer (iv) offer insight, again beyond what is usual for that year / cohort / subject

Definitely use the max word count too
Last edited by LittleSkink; 8 months ago
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LittleSkink
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#15
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#15
and one thing not to do . . . do not describe theory / models, just use them !

Add a picture if necessary to keep the word count down - remember tutors know pretty much every theory you might draw on (except probably in PhDs), so please don't spend your word count telling them about Herzberg two factor theory or Schein's Iceberg model of culture, or whoever

Use the specific aspect of the theory that is needed in your argument - the tutor / marker can tell you know the theory because you are using it correctly. If you can use multiple elements of different theory, for example fold in specific elements of Maslow, Herzberg and Adams in to a single point in your argument about motivation, it is much more likely to show the criticality and balance that is usually expected at higher grades

As a minimum I expect one set of brackets in every paragraph (less than that usually means student has no references to support argument, therefore you are likely to fail) and the highest grades will have multiple brackets / references in a single sentence
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Botte
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#16
Report 6 months ago
#16
I've only gotten an 80% or better a couple of times on essays. Psychology undergraduate and Neuroscience MSc. The only advice I can give is: 1) read the question thoroughly and ask yourself for every paragraph you type "is this really answering the question?". 2) Reference and highlight papers which disagree with one another. Finally and most importantly 3) reflect and tell your markers why you support a certain opinion, or if disagree with them. Bonus points if you raise weaknesses with curtains studies and tell them how to improve their study design.
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audenbarrett
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#17
Report 4 months ago
#17
Just received my 88 today for my first philosophical critical essay on ethics. I started it three days before the due date and saturated myself in philosophy lectures on YouTube and read nearly only anything pertaining to my essay question. We were expected to include 3-5 peer-reviewed references and I ended up with 14 and I think even just reading 14 papers reinforced my understanding and broadened my perspective on how I could approach the question. I wrote drafts for two days from 8am-10pm following the Pomodoro method and the last day was editing and referencing. I submitted two hours before deadline and felt overall, my highest possible mark would be 73. So to receive an 88 was awesome and my overall grade for that philosophy unit was 85 which is an HD (High Distinction) where I study.
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Veralder
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#18
Report 3 months ago
#18
(Original post by audenbarrett)
Just received my 88 today for my first philosophical critical essay on ethics. I started it three days before the due date and saturated myself in philosophy lectures on YouTube and read nearly only anything pertaining to my essay question. We were expected to include 3-5 peer-reviewed references and I ended up with 14 and I think even just reading 14 papers reinforced my understanding and broadened my perspective on how I could approach the question. I wrote drafts for two days from 8am-10pm following the Pomodoro method and the last day was editing and referencing. I submitted two hours before deadline and felt overall, my highest possible mark would be 73. So to receive an 88 was awesome and my overall grade for that philosophy unit was 85 which is an HD (High Distinction) where I study.

To be honest, I also used to get only 70 or 75 on my essays, I was spending a lot of time and energy writing them. I got so demotivated that I have started to not care at all about my essays and began to write some nonsense. One of my friends noticed this and told me his secret, he just looks for examples of the essays he needs on the Internet and reads a lot of them and then just writes down the ideas he liked in his own words and always gets more than 90. I have tried this, and I was shocked when I saw that I have received 85 on an essay about global warming. You can visit their website to find the best examples.
Good work!

I learn something from you.
Last edited by Veralder; 3 months ago
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