Essay Writing

By: Helen Treston, Alan Calder and June Bode

This module introduces you to the process of essay writing – from analysing the question through to the final redrafting and editing. This diagram summarises the process. Click on each of the stages to find out more. Don’t forget that the first place to start is at the essay question itself.

The Process of Essay Writing diagram

The Question

Person thinking Analysing the question is the most crucial part of the essay writing process. Here are the steps to follow:
1. Set time frames for specific tasks
2.Read the essay question carefully
3. Underline the key words and check their meaning
4. Highlight the action words
5. Mindmap the essay question
6. Establish a structure
7. Reread the essay question.


Here is an example of where a student has used a mindmap to analyse an essay question “Aboriginal poverty can only be understood in the light of institutionalised racism” Discuss.


Information Gathering

Person looking at books According to the time you have allocated for this task, follow the following steps:
1. Access a variety of resources
2. Read effectively and make clear notes
3. Record details to include in references


Person looking at pinboard The planning stage of the process involves buiilding on the mindmap you created when you analysed the question. Here are the key steps:
1. Mindmap your research
2. Refine your essay structure
3. Re-read the essay question


Computer You should have allocated a large amount of time for this part of the process and it should occur well before the due date.
1. Use your mindmap and essay plan.
2. Expand each idea into a paragraph.
3. Arrange the paragraphs logically.
4. Write the introduction and conclusion last.


Person looking at documents The time allocated to this final stage in the process is often the difference between a pass and a distinction; or a pass and a fail. If possible the editing should occur in the week prior to the due date.
1. Check that all parts of the question have been answered
2. Check the structure is there a clear beginning, middle and end?
3. Check that each paragraph is linked.
4. Check that the conclusion fulfils the promise you made in the introduction.
5. Check grammar and spelling.
6. Reference using the required format.

A more detailed Editing Checklist is included as a separate section of this module.

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