The Student Room Group


How do you write your first essay in university?
Reply 1
Universities will tell you. The course I was doing taught a specific structure that we should aim to follow - not 100% of course, but similar. Also, they will talk to you about plagiarism and creating a bibliography at the end to cite your sources.
Original post by Jess_..
How do you write your first essay in university?

Badly ..... most typically 😃. But that is perfectly ok, read the guidance notes, do what you think best, expect a so so mark, even if you were a top A level student and learn from the feedback. Success at uni is a marathon not a sprint, embrace that.
Original post by Jess_..
How do you write your first essay in university?

Hi there @Jess_..

Depending on your University, you may be able to find some general guidance from your University's Learning Advisory/ Support.

Whilst writing your essays, perhaps also look at the marking criteria if this is given to you?

If this is an essay for your coursework, you can also look for several example answers online to understand the structure and style of writing. But just be aware of information online and make sure that it is a trustworthy source.

I hope this helps.
-University of Kent Student Rep
(edited 7 months ago)
Original post by Jess_..
How do you write your first essay in university?


Most first years (Depending on the Uni) get assigned an academic advisor, and essentially they're your go to whenever you're struggling with something academically and need assistance so I would suggest booking an appointment with your advisor. If your Uni does not assign academic advisors, you can always contact the teaching and learning team for advice on how to write essays.

Most first years don't know how to write University academic essays so don't worry too much, you're most likely going to be taught about the basics of academic writing in your tutorials/seminars anyways.

My biggest tip to incoming students is to look at the online learning materials available on writing an academic paper and understanding the format and different types of academic writing.

I hope this helps :smile:

(Official DU Rep)
Original post by Jess_..
How do you write your first essay in university?

Hi @Jess_..,

From my experience the academics you work with will do their best to give you tips and tricks for doing well in your first assignment, however stress that perfection is not expected at all! Academics understand that their students do not come to university equipped with the full bank of skills required to be a first class student; these skills are polished over time, so please do not worry if you aren't 100% happy with your initial grade.

Another tip is to focus on the written feedback. It is all too common for students to fixate upon the numerical grade they are given, as this is how you can position yourself in terms of the grade you achieved. However, it is important that you take the time to read and take on board the feedback that the academics give you, as this is how you will find yourself improving.

Overall, try your best and take in all of the advice you are given pre submission. Give yourself plenty of time so you do not have to rush, and allow yourself time to thoroughly edit.

Best of luck!

Jasmine (an Official University of Southampton Rep):smile:
Original post by Jess_..
How do you write your first essay in university?

Hi @Jess_..,
Firstly, it is great that you are starting to think about how essays are wrote at university, compared to what you are used to. In truth, essays at university will be a step up from secondary school/sixth form/college, but very similiar in structure at the same time, just with a few extra components. The best advice I can give is to speak to the lecturers who will be marking your essays, as well as your university writing support services, since the structure expected will slightly vary per university. Additionally, university libraries often have a section dedicated to academic writing, which may be worth checking out. Furthermore, there are university essay writing books online that can be purchased.
All the best of luck.
Megan (University of Lincoln Geography BSc(Hons) Graduate)
Reply 7
Instead of looking at 'example answers' (which is, frankly ****-poor advice at degree level (not least because it is an easy route to plagiarism), this is not A Level) you could get into the habit of reading academic papers in relevant journals.

This has two big benefits: first, it gets you used to reading the things, which is a skill all of its own, and second, it shows you how academic papers should be written - including your own. The more familiar you are, the easier it is to replicate the style.

Other general tips:

Make sure you have a clear argument and that everything in the paper builds or contributes to it.

Think of some counter arguments and then deal with them.

Deal with few things in detail rather than loads of things at surface-level.
Original post by Jess_..
How do you write your first essay in university?

Hi there!

Writing your first essay can be really tough at first but you'll soon get used to it! Have a look and see if your university offers any help with your academic writing skills.

Make sure you stick to the question and the word count and have a look at the referencing that you need to use!

I hope this helps,

Rebecca - UCLan
Hi @Jess_..,

Writing your first essay at university can be a challenging experience! Here are some steps to I like to follow to help write an essay:

1. Understand the assignment: Read the essay prompt carefully, paying attention to the requirements and guidelines provided by your professor.

2. Conduct research: Gather information from credible sources such as books, academic journals, and reputable websites. Take notes and organise your findings.

3. Create an outline: Outline the main sections and points you want to cover in your essay. This helps you organize your thoughts and ensures a logical flow of ideas.

4. Structure your writing: Start your essay with an engaging introduction that grabs the reader's attention and provides background to your statement. Then, proceed to write the body with relevant paragraphs and then the conclusion.

5. Add in your bibliography: This is where you put all your references and sources at the end of your writing. It is important to note, different universities use different reference styles so make sure you list these correctly.

Using Word, I like to input my reference style using the “citation” button where I can just add in the relevant information of my source and it references it for me. At the end, I then use the “bibliography” button to curate my final list of references. Ensure that this format still meets the brief you were given at the beginning of your assignment as this is really important to get right. But, remember to always ask for help when you need it and with the right tools and practice you’ll get the hang of it :smile:

Hope this helps,
(edited 6 months ago)

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