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How To Plan an Essay

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Essays are a fixture of the education process whether primary, secondary or tertiary. Formal, organised writing is also increasingly necessary in the modern workplace. Learning and practising a few simple skills and techniques can make all the difference in the quality and effectiveness of your essay writing.
What you'll need: 
Pen
Paper
PC/Laptop
1: 
Planning is the be-all and end-all of essay writing and indeed of writing in general. More often than not essay topics are prescribed. This can be both help and hindrance.
2: 
If your essay topic is prescribed you may also have been assigned set texts and sources from which to draw at least some of your material. If this is the case, gather as much of the source material as possible.
3: 
If you have been given licence to select your own essay topic it is generally best to select a topic with which you are at least partly familiar. In addition you should ascertain whether sufficient source material and research will be available for your chosen topic.
4: 
Read the question! This may sound obvious yet it is a surprisingly common stumbling block. Be fully aware of what the question is asking of you as this will determine what you look for when doing your research.
5: 
Having identified what it is that you are being asked, begin selecting relevant information. Make clear notes of where and when your information was found for future use when completing your referencing. Make sure you are familiar with the required style of referencing, both in-text and in your bibliography.
6: 
Select and organise your gathered information using your preferred method. This may take the shape of mind-maps or even simple lists. Thereafter begin constructing and structuring your essay by creating an essay outline.
7: 
Create your argument in the form of the essay outline. This will give you a skeleton framework of the final product and will allow you to begin the drafting process during which you transform information into a coherent and logical argument.
Tips: 
Plan your introduction as a lead-in to the arguments you will present throughout your essay.
When planning paragraphs ensure that each contains a single, easily discernible idea.
Warnings: 
The essay planning and drafting process often takes longer than expected so leave yourself plenty of time.

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