Planning, drafting and editing
Good critical academic writing is shaped by effective planning, always improved by drafting and polished by editing and proofreading.
Allocate time for each stage. Set yourself a deadline a week before you have to hand your assignment in and work backwards, incorporating time for reading and research.
These links outline the stages of the writing process:
- Planning an essay (links to Critical essay writing)
- Planning a report (links to Reports)
Expect to adapt your plan - it shows that your ideas are developing.
Third year Physics with Management student
What is it like writing essays on your course and do you have any tips?
Not only do we have to write essays on my course, we also have to write lab reports mainly towards the end of every term. All I can say is plan in advance and give yourself plenty of time to write these.
It's better to write one or two hours a day rather than doing it all on the last night because what happened to me, luckily in my first year when it didn't count, the lecturer was kind enough to say: ‘OK write your lab report, hand it in, I will mark it and then give it back and then you can change anything, take on board my feedback and then hand it in again'.
I thought that was brilliant, so I got it back and thought, ‘OK, I'll do this at some point' and I kept putting it off and then on the last night I was like OK I really have to do this now and I was really tired and I just crammed it in, did everything and handed it in.
It turned out I got a worse mark than I did the first time. So I went straight up there and complained, I said: ‘How is this possible?' and then the lecturer kindly showed me that I mixed up two different essays I wrote. So, because I was under so much pressure getting this all done on time, I mixed them up and I must have copied something in the wrong document and nothing worked - I had different diagrams that were completely unrelated.
So it is very, very important to proofread! Ask your friends you live with to proofread. Maybe you are lucky enough to have an English student in your house - I'm lucky to have that, so do get plenty of people to proofread it. You have to proofread it and that will definitely help you and please give yourself as much time as possible to get your essays done because it is quite important to have them well structured.