for those who have ever got a first in an essay tell me..

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papajohns
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am writing a standard 2k apa discussion essay
tell me in ur work in past

- how did u structure it like a basic run through
- did u use a thesis statement, a purpose statement, some kind of 'road map' describing how you are gonna answer the question
- examples of excellent references

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sr90
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For a standard 2,000 word essay i'd normally structure it like this:

Intro
Topic 1
Topic 2
Topic 3
Summary conclusion

Each topic would have 2-3 paragraphs depending on the source material. At the end of each section, link back to your original question and try and transition in to your next topic (not always easy to do this).

References? Well i'd identify the topics and then pick out references based on them. I'd then have pages of quotes from a variety of different sources - books, journals, websites to cherry pick at my leisure. It meant I wasn't completely screwed if my essay took a different direction.

I was always told that to get a 1st you needed to critically evaluate the source material i.e not just say "Bob argues this, whereas Frank believes this" so I developed that skill during my degree. Look at who wrote it, when it was written, how it compares to other opinions, why it supports/dismisses the argument being presented etc.

This is History though. I'm sure it'll be very different for other subjects.
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papajohns
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(Original post by sr90)
For a standard 2,000 word essay i'd normally structure it like this:

Intro
Topic 1
Topic 2
Topic 3
Summary conclusion

Each topic would have 2-3 paragraphs depending on the source material. At the end of each section, link back to your original question and try and transition in to your next topic (not always easy to do this).

References? Well i'd identify the topics and then pick out references based on them. I'd then have pages of quotes from a variety of different sources - books, journals, websites to cherry pick at my leisure. It meant I wasn't completely screwed if my essay took a different direction.

I was always told that to get a 1st you needed to critically evaluate the source material i.e not just say "Bob argues this, whereas Frank believes this" so I developed that skill during my degree. Look at who wrote it, when it was written, how it compares to other opinions, why it supports/dismisses the argument being presented etc.

This is History though. I'm sure it'll be very different for other subjects.
are you supposed to critique references if used them. can quote their findings which may be true but have some flaws too
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Notoriety
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(Original post by papajohns)
are you supposed to critique references if used them. can quote their findings which may be true but have some flaws too
Critique where critique is due. One of the worst things you can do, in my opinion, is to be critical for the sake of it.

If you look at professional journal articles, they are very deferential to other authors and they presume good faith. Ordinarily they will frame it as Bob says X, because of Y and Z. Well, I would have to agree with this because of A, B and C. Although, there are some slight issues with the clarity of Y.

Treat a source as if it were written by a good friend who was sitting in the room with you as you're talking about it.
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blossomx
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To get a first you have to do something extra to what the average student does. There are various ways of showing your marker you have done something extra, I treat essay writing like jumping through hoops so first you want to write a solid 2.1 essay.

A 2.1 essay means that it's good - it answers the question, good logical structure, good grammar, consult primary literature (never reference a textbook, try not to reference review articles but sometimes you have to). Also a couple of things:
- Introduction: structure it like an upside-down triangle where you start broad and get narrower and narrower until your specific topic. You want your first sentence to be so broad that a laysman could understand it just to give the essay context. For example, if I was writing an essay about a specific mechanism of breast cancer treatment, my first sentence would be something basic like "Breast cancer affects X many people and is associated with an Y% mortality rate". Then I would narrow it down.
- This depends on the type of essay you're writing but I always give my paragraphs subheadings that are informative. For example, if I was writing about theories of anxiety, I would not give it the subheading "Anxiety Theories" but rather a short summary of the overall point of the paragraph e.g. "The aetiology of anxiety is unknown"

Then for that something extra (to get a first) a few things I do:
- Go on Google Scholar, type in the topic and filter it to only show papers from 2017 onwards and include some really recent papers. You want to show that you understand where the topic currently is, e.g. for me I study Biology so it's what the current research that is being conducted, current theories and views of the field, etc.
- Be critical. It took me my whole degree to actually understand what being critical is and I'm still not really sure. I think it's something like: one theory of this process is this mechanism. This is supported by X who found that... However, Y argues that ... Therefore it is likely that..."
- Synthesis of material: this means combining multiple sources (i.e. primary literature papers) into one coherent description that shows that you understand the topic.
- Make your own figures. I don't do this often, but sometimes if I'm writing an essay about a particular process (e.g. the function of a specific hormone) I will make a flow-chart figure of the processes and downstream effects. Or if I see a figure in a paper, I may adapt it (making sure to reference it by "Figure adapted from X et al. (2018)" in the legend). It just shows that extra bit of work above just copying and pasting a journal article's figure.
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papajohns
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(Original post by LeaX)
To get a first you have to do something extra to what the average student does. There are various ways of showing your marker you have done something extra, I treat essay writing like jumping through hoops so first you want to write a solid 2.1 essay.

A 2.1 essay means that it's good - it answers the question, good logical structure, good grammar, consult primary literature (never reference a textbook, try not to reference review articles but sometimes you have to). Also a couple of things:
- Introduction: structure it like an upside-down triangle where you start broad and get narrower and narrower until your specific topic. You want your first sentence to be so broad that a laysman could understand it just to give the essay context. For example, if I was writing an essay about a specific mechanism of breast cancer treatment, my first sentence would be something basic like "Breast cancer affects X many people and is associated with an Y% mortality rate". Then I would narrow it down.
- This depends on the type of essay you're writing but I always give my paragraphs subheadings that are informative. For example, if I was writing about theories of anxiety, I would not give it the subheading "Anxiety Theories" but rather a short summary of the overall point of the paragraph e.g. "The aetiology of anxiety is unknown"

Then for that something extra (to get a first) a few things I do:
- Go on Google Scholar, type in the topic and filter it to only show papers from 2017 onwards and include some really recent papers. You want to show that you understand where the topic currently is, e.g. for me I study Biology so it's what the current research that is being conducted, current theories and views of the field, etc.
- Be critical. It took me my whole degree to actually understand what being critical is and I'm still not really sure. I think it's something like: one theory of this process is this mechanism. This is supported by X who found that... However, Y argues that ... Therefore it is likely that..."
- Synthesis of material: this means combining multiple sources (i.e. primary literature papers) into one coherent description that shows that you understand the topic.
- Make your own figures. I don't do this often, but sometimes if I'm writing an essay about a particular process (e.g. the function of a specific hormone) I will make a flow-chart figure of the processes and downstream effects. Or if I see a figure in a paper, I may adapt it (making sure to reference it by "Figure adapted from X et al. (2018)" in the legend). It just shows that extra bit of work above just copying and pasting a journal article's figure.
thanks, also what spacing did you use between lines etc to achieve excellent layout. i think i might be losing marks here. am apa ref
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blossomx
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#7
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(Original post by papajohns)
thanks, also what spacing did you use between lines etc to achieve excellent layout. i think i might be losing marks here. am apa ref
It's best to consult the APA guidelines as I know they are pretty meticulous about that. My university doesn't ask for anything specific for layout except size 12 point in Arial or Times New Roman. For my dissertation it was stricter though, I used 1.5 spacing.
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PhoenixFortune
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(Original post by papajohns)
thanks, also what spacing did you use between lines etc to achieve excellent layout. i think i might be losing marks here. am apa ref
My university has its own handbook that explains exactly what they expect in terms of quality and formatting of assessments. Search your university's website or Blackboard (or whatever your online learning space is called) to see if your university provides one.

My university, for example, likes all assignments to have a serif font, 1.5 spacing, justified text, and 3cm margins on either side of the document.
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