Oxford essay writing

20 Top Tips for Writing an Essay

oxford essay writing

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Maybe youll have an additional idea later on in the day, maybe your plan was not realistic, or maybe you mentioned a point in another section. By having the sections flagged, its easier to remedy the length of the essay once completed. Sometimes there is confusion over what counts as words. Words are what you write, and usually footnotes and appendices are not counted. However, word processors often count these, too. In any case, do check what counts towards the word limit in your institution or course.

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Its not necessarily a bad sign, but usually means that you could develop the argument further, or that there are no illustrations to bring the essay alive. In either case, your marker will essay be likely to comment on this. Planning your essay is the best way to stay within the limits. When drawing up the outline, i always spend a moment thinking about how many words I want to allocate to each section. This not only helps me staying within the word limit, but more importantly, maybe, is the plan for a balanced answer. By planning to write the same amount on two contrasting views, for example, its unlikely that I write three quarters of the essay on one side only. This is the case, because were conscious of the essay structure when we plan. During the process of writing the essay, you can monitor your progress by checking the number of words in your current section. Planning and checking section by section will prevent you from panicking when looking at the overall word count. If you go over, or run out with much to spare, flag the section.

Many institutions practise a formal or informal 10 tolerance. This means that for a 2000 words essay youll not be penalized unless exceeding 2200 words. Its essential that you check, and make sure you check with someone in an adequate position. Staying within the limits is the easier and safer option. Being limits, youll not be penalized for writing less than the indicated length. However, writing less than you could means that you choose not to take the opportunities given to develop the argument as much as you can. Its for this reason that you might get lower marks. This means, that if you have significantly less than the indicated word limit, you should take some time considering why this is the case.

oxford essay writing

How to Write better Essays

Word limits exist for a number of reasons. First of all, writing to length is considered a desirable skill. Secondly, having a limit is a way to ensure that you select the most relevant bits. Skills of selection are sought after outside of academia, too. Thirdly, word limits give an indication to you as the writer of what is expected from you. You should always try as hard as you can not to exceed the word limit. They are called limits after all, not indications. The most powerful of reasons is probably that you might be penalized. Moreover, keeping to word limits is part of good practice, nice on your readers, and a sign that you possess certain skills.

The new Oxford guide to Writing: Thomas

oxford essay writing

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This normally involves the rejection of permission some of the possibilities. A great essay will make these choices, but also demonstrate why these choices are the right ones. Top-grade essays are also clear about the relevance of what is written. In a paragraph, you not only list the different aspects, for example, and then give an appropriate example. In addition, markers look for a few sentences on the importance of what was just written.

This can usually be achieved by linking it back to the question, or other underlying debates. Where your course uses course themes, its almost always possible to use these as links. In their feedback, markers often use the phrase engaging with the question to refer to this aspect. Word Limits edit, in most cases when youre given an essay to write, there is a word limit stated. A word limit is simply an indication how many words you should not exceed in your essay. Sometimes instead a number of pages is given.

Chances are that some theoretical perspectives have very little to say on your particular question. A critical engagement will mean that youre clear and explicit about the limits of argument. Markers look out for statements like that x is important, but only in certain areas of life, or that y is important but only when considered together with other concepts, or that z is not as important as x and. Essays with top grades identify and challenge where appropriate the assumption implicit in a question. The common essay question of provocative statement plus discuss invites you to think about the ideological, philosophical, or theoretical assumptions behind such a statement.


A question may actually be the wrong question to ask if youre approaching the answer from a feminist point of view, rather than a marxist one, for example. Look out for counter-claims and examine their merit. A top essay will have a clear and systematic structure. Ideally, at any one point your readers will know where they are, and why they are there. In practice this means that youll be clear about what you want to write before you start, and that you organize your thoughts in a coherent manner. The different sections are thus linked in a way obvious both to you and your reader. Exploring all possibilities is another way to get top grades. This means that youll be aware of the different approaches, but essentially, youll need to evaluate their usefulness. Its not just a matter of applying a great number of perspectives, but maybe more importantly one of choosing and selecting which of those carry forward the argument most.

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Getting Top Grades edit, in this section I try to outline what differentiates good short from very good essays. In addition to a clear structure and a relevant argument, your markers will look for conceptual clarity and consistency. You can achieve this by taking care to delimit your answer, and define key terms in a way that is relevant to your answer. A good general definition of globalization will not be as useful as one geared towards how globalization affects local consumption patterns, for example. Your examiners will also look for critical engagement. Constantly ask yourself how important an argument. Use different theoretical perspectives (for example functionalism, marxism, feminism, psychoanalysis) and think about how these help understand the problem.

oxford essay writing

Conceptual clarity can be remedied by providing definitions, as outlined in the previous point. The lack of guidance means that your readers will feel lost, not knowing where the essay will go next. Providing a clear introduction that delimits the scope of the answer is sometimes all that is needed. Within the main body, linking sections and paragraphs helps further. The most common problem, probably, is students failing to answer the question. By paying attention to the process and content words, the first government part of the problem is already resolved. Writing in a planned and structured way, the remainder is addressed, too. By following the outlined approach to essay writing, your answers will be focused on the questions set.

being said. The problem is in most cases the lack of delimitation and definition. This means that the essay does not state what is and is not written about, and also that key terms are not defined. Much unclarity can stem from misunderstandings, the reader understanding terms in a different way from what you intended them to mean. What is clear to you may not be so for the marker. Making sure its down on paper, this problem can be prevented. Difficult: Essays that are difficult to read often suffer from one of the following symptoms: lack of illustrations, lack of conceptual clarity, or lack of guidance. Illustrations are not a nice to have, but an essential part of most essays. Think about the examples when you plan the essay.

Following a reasonable form of preparation will also help (see the section on preparation). Once you know what youre going to say, and in what order youre going to say it, its much easier to stay on track. Not relevant: Unfortunately many essays that are written are as such great essays, but include substantive sections that are not relevant. The problem may be that not enough time is spent planning the essay. It may also be the case, that the irrelevant bits merely appear to be irrelevant. The trick in the latter case is to link the paragraphs using suitable phrases, and actively demonstrate points how the illustrations are relevant, for instance. Unconnected: For the same reasons as in the above point, essays may be or appear unconnected. A good plan can be the first line of defence: making sure that you yourself know how the different bits link. The next thing to do, again, is using phrases that connect different paragraphs and sections.

A student's guide: Writing the Short Essay

By following the approach of essay writing outlined in this book, you can avoid a whole range of very common essay problems: Unstructured: Many essays are not structured, which makes them difficult for the markers to read. Without structure, reading an essay is like a discovery journey: your marker will never be sure what is around the corner. This might sound appealing, but youre not writing a thriller. Your marker will have difficulty to see whether and how what you write is relevant to the question set. Following the advice in this book, you can avoid this problem by feasibility outlining at the beginning how youre going to answer the question ( delimit ). Your reader will know what is coming. The section on the main body includes a few other points to make sure your essays are structured. Rambling: The problem of rambling is often just a symptom of the above problem: lack of structure. By thinking in a structured way, tendencies to ramble are reduced.


oxford essay writing
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