In order to write a good academic essay, you must use appropriate language and. It can be hard to ensure your essay follows proper conventions so we have compiled a list of things to do and things to avoid to make your essay sound more academic.
A contraction is a combination of words that have been shortened by either fusing the two words together or the omission of syllables from the two words. For example, the words aren’t, don’t and can’t are all contractions. Contractions are the enemy of a formal academic essay. Use them in your everyday conversation, but leave them out of your essay.
Clichés are overused phrases or expressions such as “back to square one”, or “too good to be true”. There are hundreds of clichés and you should avoid them at all costs. Clichés are not always obvious, so you have to be thorough in your proofreading to ensure that no clichés have made their way into your essay. In essence, avoid using flowery language and make sure that your reader knows what you mean by writing plainly and clearly.
Your essay should steer clear of any colloquialisms or informal words. Be sure to avoid words that you use in everyday conversation such as, totally, basically, super and heaps. You should also never use slang or abbreviations in you essay.
Ensure that you are using academic vocabulary in your essay in order to strengthen your argument. Avoid words such as think, use and lots. Read our article on “15 Words and Phrases That Will Take Your Essay to the Next Level” for an extensive list of words and phrases to use to make your essay sound more academic.
When writing an essay, one of the most important things is to ensure that your argument is clear, obvious and is clearly stated in plain language. Use strong wording in your thesis or argument to persuade your reader.
The point of view in your essay depends on both the type of essay you are writing, and the requirements of the task. Always ensure that you are writing from the correct point of view. Essays will either be written in third person or first person. You should never write an essay in second person.
Each paragraph of your essay should begin with a topic sentence. A topic sentence introduces the main concept or idea of a paragraph. Similar to topic sentences, transition sentences make your essay flow from one idea to another within a paragraph. Having these smooth transitions make your essay clearer and easier to read.
The way that your document should be formatted depends on the kind of essay you are writing. Be sure to check with your teacher about the formatting requirements for your essay. As a standard formatting guide, you should always use a 12-point serif typeface and have a line spacing of 2.0.
There are a number of referencing styles available. The referencing style you should use will depend on the type of essay you are writing, or the preference of the person marking it. Be sure that you are using the correct referencing style as this will contribute to your essay looking and sounding more academic.admin Categories: Guide Tags: advice, creative writing, english, essays 10122 How to Write Brilliant Essays
So, you’ve been set an academic essay to write. An essay writing task is an exciting chance to highlight your academic flair, your exceptional written English skills and your ability to think originally, but, for many students, being asked to write an academic essay can be a daunting task, especially when it is for a scholarship or to help along your university application.
But never fear, as a graduate in English from two different universities, I have used my experience writing countless essays over the years and have compiled a list of handy tips to ensure that you take your essay from good to brilliant, no matter what your subject of interest.
Put in the background work – and make sure it’s interesting to you too!
This may be controversial, but personally, I don’t like reading essays that the student has no interest in writing about as it really comes across in the writing. So, if you can, find an angle on your essay topic which you find interesting and do extra background reading beyond the reading list. Wider reading will give you deeper knowledge and help you to write really insightful and interesting essays.
If you need guidance about where to find your extra reading, just ask your teachers, and remember, you don’t have to read whole books: you can read relevant chapters, and even just the introduction and conclusion of an essay to get what the author is getting at. You can then use this additional information to strengthen your essay and make it stand out from the crowd.
Make your life a million times easier by planning your essay beforehand. Everyone has their own way of approaching this, and it doesn’t need to be a big stress, just make sure you lay out the ideas you want to cover in a logical order and have an introduction and conclusion which explains to your reader what you’ve argued. You need to connect all of these ideas into an argument by using connecting words such as ‘Similarly…’ ‘In addition’, ‘Developing this further…’, or even by simply numbering your sections with ‘Firstly,’, ’Secondly’, ‘Finally’ and so on.
You need to make your essay as readable and easy to navigate for the reader as possible. You want your ideas to shine through above all, and this will be best done through a clear and straightforward structure. As my lecturers have explained to me countless times over the years, you are aiming to take your reader by the hand and guide them through your essay, not leaving them in a maze full of twists and turns where they can’t follow your line of thinking!
Make sure you answer the question that has been set
I know, this one might sound a bit patronising but you’d be amazed how many students make this mistake at the undergraduate level of university and beyond. It can be easy to write about what you want to write about, not the actual question, so make sure you really make sure you focus on all of the keywords in the essay question. This will stop you losing silly marks!
Give both sides of the argument: but your opinion matters too!
You should definitely put across your opinion and interpretation of a topic in an essay – they don’t call it an ‘argument’ in an essay for nothing! – but make sure you consider multiple points of view by evaluating the evidence, and, if you want to really impress, point out potential issues others could have with your argument (but ensure you don’t emphasise these too strongly!).
Explain your argument to a friend
This is a really sure-fire way of making sure your essay is clear enough, as, in my view, clarity is more important than a very sophisticated and elegant style of writing. If you can explain your essay argument to a friend studying a different subject in one sentence, you’re good to go. If not, rework your introduction and essay structure. It’s as simple as that.
Don’t write at the last minute
Save yourself the stress of an all-nighter and write it in advance of the deadline, if at all possible. This will give you time to leave it for a few days and come back to it with fresh eyes (which will help make the essay 10,000% times better, I promise you), and make you feel so much calmer about the work.
Don’t fret about the introduction!
This is one element of an essay that can really wind students up. They spend hours and hours staring at a blank white screen or page because they just can’t summon up the perfect words to start their essay off with. Well, here’s a newsflash for you: you don’t have to find the perfect words!
You’re not writing the next War and Peace and you can just write your introduction using the following, foolproof formula for the introduction which the PhD student, Tim Squirrel, from the University of Edinburgh explained to the Guardian: ”Here is the argument I am going to make, I am going to substantiate this with three or four strands of argumentation, drawing upon these theorists, who say these things, and I will conclude with some thoughts on this area and how it might clarify our understanding of this phenomenon.’ You should be able to encapsulate it in 100 words or so. That’s literally it.”
…Or the conclusion
Yes, the same applies to the conclusion. Once you’ve got to the conclusion, you’re home and dry. Do not, under any circumstances, add new information to your conclusion. It’s not big and it’s not clever. Assume your reader is a bit stupid and use the conclusion as an opportunity to tell them what you have already told them in the essay. It’s basically a rehash of your introduction, telling them what you have shown throughout the essay and using nice words to do this.
Finally, proofread, proofread, proofread
No, a spell checker is not enough. Make sure you got through your essay a few times and ask a friend or willing family member to help you with the proofreading too, as they will be able to look at the essay from a different perspective. After all, you’ve put in all this effort into the essay, and you don’t want to lose marks over something as silly as a typo or a grammatical error.
Go forth and write!
With these tips in your arsenal, you should be writing brilliant essays in no time!admin Categories: Articles Tags: creative writing, student advice, student guides 9699 Want to Study English at University? Here is Everything You Need to Know
Whether it’s medieval manuscripts, Shakespeare’s sonnets or Brontë’s books, English remains one of the most popular subjects to study at university level.
If you love writing about books at school and want to take this to the next level by studying a wider range of texts at a higher, more academic level, degree level English is the thing for you.
With an ever-increasing number of universities offering creative writing and numerous other humanities subjects in combination with English (English and Drama, English and History and so on), you won’t be short of choice if you decide to study English at university.
But if you do decide to study English at university, you will have a very different experience and sit very different modules at Cambridge than at somewhere less traditional such as Southampton University. With all these decisions to make about studying English at university, you might be wondering, where should I start?Make sure you have the right A-Levels
The next thing to think about when deciding whether you want to study English at university, is to make sure that you do English A level Literature and/or Language.
Most universities offering English will ask for English Literature, not Language, but it will certainly not be a disadvantage if you have Language as well. It is worth noting that many of the highest ranked universities will ask for at least an A in A Level English Literature, but not all universities will.
Aside from the requirement to do English Literature, there are usually no other specifications for which A levels universities are looking for. For example, I studied English and Creative Writing at Birmingham and did A levels in English Literature, History, Biology and German.
There is no requirement to do all of your A levels in humanities subjects, and actually, you might regret doing all humanities as it will require a lot of essay writing!Missed your offer grades? Don’t panic!
If you miss out on your A at A level, don’t panic! Plenty of people still receive their offers to study English even if they get slightly lower grades than their offer, and you can always go through clearing if necessary. Most universities in the country offer degrees in English, so you will definitely end up studying somewhere.Decide whether you want to do Joint or Single Honours
As I mentioned before, English is one of those subjects which can be combined with a lot of other subjects if you would like to do joint honours. You could combine English with so many subjects: popular options include medieval and modern languages, drama, creative writing, music and film.
Doing a joint honours has lots of advantages: you will get to study a broader range of material, reducing the likelihood of you losing interest in your subject. In addition, if you’re not sure which subject you would prefer to study, or would like to try something different, joint honours degrees offer a great opportunity to do this. Plus, you will be able to make more course friends!
On the other hand, one possible disadvantage might be the varying assessment requirements (for example, you might need to write in one essay style for English, and another quite different one for German). You should therefore think carefully about whether you think Joint Honours is for you.
An increasingly popular combination is English with Creative Writing, which brings together practical instruction in writing with the more traditional, academic study of texts. Courses vary, but the Birmingham course is 25% Creative Writing and 75% English, whereas other universities such as Kent’s offer a higher ratio of creative writing to English. To Oxbridge, or not to Oxbridge: That is the question
Another question you may be asking yourself is, ‘should I be applying to Oxbridge for my English degree?’
This is obviously a question you need to answer for yourself, but here some things to think about.
Firstly, the Cambridge and Oxford English courses will obviously be very intensive, requiring you to write weekly essays (at the very least), and involving extremely small group seminars (supervisions at Cambridge, tutorials at Oxford), where there is nowhere to hide!
The courses themselves at Oxbridge are also traditional in structure and are largely chronological, beginning in the medieval period and working through time periods up until the ‘modern’ one. Although there are optional modules, compared to other universities, Oxbridge’s courses are more tightly structured.
Of course, the Oxbridge English courses are also very highly regarded, prestigious and popular, and getting a place to study at Oxford or Cambridge is a big achievement.
The best thing to do if you’re thinking about applying to Oxbridge is to attend one of their open days, where you can talk to current students and get the real inside story about what it’s like to study there. What use is an English degree anyway?
One of the worries which students might have about studying an English degree at university is whether it will help them get a job in the outside world. There is a popular myth that English is not employable, and this is just incorrect.
Although an English degree will not lead directly into one particular career like more vocational degrees (such as medicine), this can definitely be a blessing in disguise. English may close a few career doors, but it will open far more.
Doing an English degree will teach you so many skills which are transferable to many different workplaces, these will include problem solving, research, presentation work, analytical skills and the ability to articulate your ideas brilliantly, amongst other things.
Once you have landed yourself a job interview, all you have to do is explain what these transferable skills are, and why they make you stand out, and you will be sure to impress the employer.
You can work in so many different fields after an English degree, too many to name here, but popular ones include media, public relations, academia, education, government, human relations and management.
So, if you’re thinking about applying for English at university and you’re worried about your career prospects, don’t be. Just go for it, and make sure you take advantage of the careers service offered at your university of choice.Immerse Education Categories: Articles, University Advice Tags: creative writing, english language, english literature, student advice 9205 Seven Things to Do If You’ve Chosen the Wrong Degree
Once upon a time, a wide-eyed, enthusiastic student just like yourself – OK, it was you. You entered university, having put countless hours of thought, research, and consideration into just the right choice of both university and course of study. It was a whirlwind of new experiences.
Books were purchased, lecturers were met, friends were made. And after a very short period of time, as you settled into your new routine, one thing became crystal clear.
All of the aforementioned thought, research, and consideration had been completely and utterly… worthless.
You chose the wrong course!
Maybe it was the wrong university!!
Your life is ruined!!!
The icy fist of panic tightens its grip on your formerly joyous little heart.
Sound familiar? If so, resist that icy fist. While it’s not the most pleasant of situations to be in, it’s certainly not unusual. Whether you underestimated the workload or misjudged the content of the course, you needn’t look on the next three or more years of your life as an inescapable waste of time. There are things to be done to remedy the situation.
Here are a few tips for righting the ship.
The world is not ending. Your life is not at stake. The most severe consequence of this unpleasant realisation is that you may be required to take a break from school for a year while you re-group and change course.
I can feel you clenching at the mere mention of that.
Going to university is not a sprint to the finish line. Though you may feel pressured to complete your course of study in the “standard” amount of time, once you’ve completed that course, it makes no difference whether you did it in one, three, or 6 years. What’s most important is that you’re following the right course for you, and a gap year can be used in a variety of ways that could easily change it from a seeming detriment to an asset.
Of course, if your income is limited, the additional costs associated with a change in course may seem overwhelming, but it’s nothing compared to the waste you would incur following through with a course of study that’s not for you
You can’t solve a problem if you don’t know what it is, and there are many possibilities to consider as to why you might feel you’ve taken a wrong turn.
Maybe you just made the wrong choice. You did your research, narrowed down your options, and when the moment came to choose, you choked. It happens. But what is it about the course that’s causing you distress? Here are some possibilities:
Is It the University?
Your parents went there. Your friends are going there. It looks good on a resume. People are impressed that you were accepted. There are many reasons to choose a University that have nothing to do with whether or not it’s the right place for you. Perhaps you’ve chosen the perfect course of study, but the wrong place in which to complete it.
What are some reasons a university might be wrong for you? It could be anything from not getting on well with the other students to feeling like an outcast due to race or social status to an atmosphere that clashes with your sensibilities – it’s conservative and you’re liberal, or the other way around, for example. Or perhaps they’re too focused on the outcome of education without paying adequate attention to the process of learning. Whatever the reason, if the university is the problem, it’s important to know why so that you don’t make the same mistake twice.
Is It You?
Moving on to University can be a major life change, and our psyches don’t always play well with others in the midst of such events. If you’ve examined everything else, and still can’t quite grasp what it is that’s bothering you, you might take a look at your psychological well-being. It’s not unexpected that such a big change might lead to some level of anxiety or depression. A visit to the doctor may be the first step you need to address these issues and realise you’ve been right where you belong after all.
3. Find Help
Universities are not lion’s dens into which you’re unceremoniously tossed and expected to fend for yourself. It is expected that issues like yours and countless others will arise. Dropping out isn’t a good result for anyone – the student loses out on higher education, and the university’s statistics take a hit for each student lost. That’s why there are invariably multiple avenues to follow for assistance, whatever the issue.
Whether it’s a personal tutor or pastoral assistance through the student union or your department, don’t listen to that nagging voice in your head that tells you that your problem is somehow not important enough to seek help for. This is exactly what these people are there for. If not for students just like yourself, they would have nothing to occupy their time, their jobs would become obsolete, and their families would go hungry.
Put them to good use.
Ninety-nine percent of the time, you’ll encounter sympathetic, supportive people with just the answers you seek. And if they don’t have the answers, chances are they know who does.
4. Alter Course
There’s a good reason why it’s important to determine exactly where your problem lies. Depending on the answer, the difficulty of your solution can vary greatly.
If you’ve simply chosen the wrong course of study, the simplest solution is to choose another that better suits you. While that may seem easier said than done, it’s probably not as difficult as you might think. Ideally, a university would much rather that everyone make a choice and stick with it, they know that that’s not a realistic expectation, and statistically speaking, they’d much rather help you change course than lose you altogether. The ease with which that can be accomplished can depend on a variety of factors, including timing and course competitiveness.
This one’s simple. The sooner you recognise the problem, the better the likelihood of a relatively painless transfer. If you’ve been at it for over four weeks, it’s much less likely that you’ll be able to transfer directly without taking a year off. If it’s only been one or two weeks, though, you’re much more likely to be able to transfer without a break. While it’s true that a gap year can end up being a quite positive experience, headaches and stress levels can be reduced greatly by avoiding that necessity.
This one’s also straightforward. If you’re transferring from Advanced Boredom Studies to Extreme Awesomeness Studies, you may have a harder time getting in on short notice than if you’re going the other way around.
But suppose you transfer to a new course and then decide you’re still not in the right place? This is another time when it’s good to put that student support staff to work. They’re not only there to help you identify problems, they’re there to help you solve them. They can help counsel you as you settle on a new course of study, and often they’ll even arrange for you to attend lectures from other courses to help determine what’s right for you.
The point here is that changing courses, as opposed to changing Universities, is always going to be cheaper, easier, and much less of a bureaucratic nightmare.
5. Run Away!
If you’re having trouble putting your finger on exactly what the problem is, your best course of action may be to just get away. Remove yourself from the environment of the university. This can mean leaving altogether, but unless you’re sure that the university is the problem, that’s probably not the best choice. What you might need to do instead is to separate your worlds. Think of the university as the place you go to learn, and find other places to plant your personal and social life.
You might find a new place to live farther away from the halls of academia where not all of the other residents are fellow students. This is something that’s not uncommon among older students, but it can seem a novel concept their younger counterparts. The usual university experience includes a strong social component, and you certainly needn’t give that up altogether unless you simply find yourself not at all getting on with your schoolmates. What can be helpful, though is to maintain a well-defined section of your life that is not defined by your identity as a student.
If you’re not ready for a complete change of schools, however, and the partial separation mentioned above doesn’t seem enough, there are also more formal ways to get some time away to reassess your situation. Options like a year spent abroad or in industry can often be just what’s needed to give yourself some distance and time to regroup. It will generally lengthen your studies by an additional year, but it’s certainly not time wasted, and most importantly it can help you clarify exactly how you wish to proceed with your education.
6. Have Your Cake and Eat it Too
Just because you’ve chosen a particular course that you’re no longer sure about doesn’t mean you’re physically shackled and confined to a single lecture hall. Often what’s happened is that things were narrowed down to two paths, and now you wish you’d taken a left turn instead of a right.
Let’s say for the sake of argument that your choices came down to either Biology or Chemistry. While they are different courses, it’s important to note that there is a fair amount of overlap between the two when it comes to specific modules that can be taken. While it’s true that your early studies may be restricted to a proscribed path specific to your course, in later years of your studies you’ll have more freedom to choose modules, and there are many that are applicable to both Biology and Chemistry.
Focusing on the places where your two interests connect and choosing your modules accordingly can often give you the best of both worlds. You’ll avoid the headache, expense, and inconvenience of changing course completely, and quite possibly widen your options for employment upon completion of your degree as well.
7. Keep Moving Forward
The information above is all fine if you’ve recognised your predicament in the early stages of your studies, but what if you only realised toward the end of your degree that what you’ve been studying isn’t likely to land you the plum job you’ve been hoping for? This is far from cause for despair for a couple of reasons:
But if you’re still despairing, take the advice of Walt Disney and “keep moving forward.” It’s important to realise that university education doesn’t necessarily end with an undergraduate degree. A growing percentage of people are opting now to pursue an advanced degree upon completing their undergraduate studies, and conversion courses are also available to facilitate transition into another profession. Humans should really never stop learning, and more education can really only serve to broaden your employment options down the road.
So, if you’ve suddenly realised that your chosen degree is not the one for you, regardless of where you are in your studies, there are still a wide variety of paths you can follow. Take a breath. Assess your options. And remember that life is a journey, not a destination.Kirsty McLaren Categories: Guide, University Advice Tags: creative writing, degree, university