Essay writing is a crucial skill for any student. It is a skill that will come in handy not just in school but even after school. Here are some tips:
- Understand the question/topic
You have to understand exactly what the question is about and what the term paper is expected to do. Are you supposed to build the dissertation around a particular premise/thesis? Are you supposed to be just exploring a topic? Or is it a matter of comparing one position to another? Explain, discuss, compare, etc. are all different.
Take time to look up the keywords in your assignment topic. You will be surprised how much time you will not waste reading stuff that is not necessary.
Clearly identify the scope of the composition. If the paper question specifically spells out any limitations, then your scope should be limited to that area only. For instance, the term paper may be about elementary education or higher education in the US or the nineteenth century. These are all limitations that you have to navigate.
If you are armed with a highlighter – and any good student should have one anyway – highlight all the keywords in the topic.
- Define the terms
Look up the definitions of all the keywords in the topic. They should be available in textbooks you can look up in the library or that you can look up online. Sometimes you can get them for free. Defining the terms will help you to understand exactly what you are talking about.
- Read the Literature
A good literature review begins with an identification of the leading academicians/opinion leaders/policy makers in the subject. Once you have one or two names, look up any books, journal articles, newspaper articles, or speeches they may have made and read them. Write down any useful information in your own words so that you can use them in your homework. Ensure that you can cite the source for every assertion.
Compare what one author has to say about what another author has to say.
Jot down any questions that come to mind as you read. These should be used to help formulate your essay.
- Start writing
Write down the main idea that jumps out at you from what you have read and make it your main argument. Write your take away according to the academic style of writing that is required e.g. APA.
After you are done writing, go over the homework twice and make sure that your arguments are well presented in a clear language.