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Planning essay

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Planning Essays and AssignmentsbackWritten assignments are an important part of university education. They give you a chance to exercise your skills at assessing evidence, developing and evaluating arguments, and expressing your views. On many courses essays are a major component of the marks.

Students often find the task of sitting down to write an assignment quite daunting. But, as youll see from the list of contents for this section, writing comes quite late in the process. This page covers planning your essay: 1. Read the question 2. An assignment with a general title 3. Decoding essay questions 4.

Researching for assignments 5. Structuring essays 6. Essay outlinesFurther pages cover the writing process: 7. Writing the assignment 8. Writing the first draft 9. The second draftand writing scientifically: 10. Writing about science 11.

Writing scientific reports1. Read The QuestionPeople often tell you to Read The Question. With assignment topics this is crucial. What does the question ask you to doDoes it ask you to: discuss = put the case for and against a proposition, and end with some statement of your own position. compare = list, in an extended way, points of similarity between two or more subjects how to write an essay for college placement test . contrast = list points of difference between two or more subjects. consider or evaluate = describe the subject and say how effective you think it is. summarise = put together all you know about a topic. 2.

An assignment with a general titleYou may be given a general title, such as Public Transport. An assignment on this topic needs: A definition: What is public transportAdvantages: What are the advantages of public transportProblems: What problems are caused by, or encountered by, public transport systemsYour opinion: Your opinion about the need to expand, subsidise, abolish public transport; whatever standpoint you wish to take. These four components form part of any general essay. 3. Decoding essay questionsBefore you start writing an assignment at university you will need to do some research. And in order to do that, you need to be certain of what the question asks you to do. Heres an example of an essay question and a way to decode it: Mentally disordered offenders should be the responsibility of Health rather than the Criminal Justice System.

Discuss. Box: Put a box around the activity words – what does the question ask you to do Here its Discuss. Underline: Underline the key things which the question asks you to discuss. Here its Mentally disordered offenders.

.. responsibility… Health.

.. Criminal Justice System. Other words: Glance back at the words which arent underlined. Does it make a difference if you include them That little word should makes a big difference to the meaning. Grid: It may help to make a grid into which to put your research findings: ForAgainstShouldHealth Criminal Justice System As your reading uncovers facts that support the different sides of the argument, note them in the appropriate square. Use colour coding and arrows to show words which are closely linked.

4. Researching for assignmentsGuidelinesWhen you have read the question and decoded it, check your departments guidelines: How long should the assignment beWhat is the deadlineWhat other requirements are there (presentation, referencing, bibliography, etc.)Select materialsKeep the question in mind as you start to select materials. Start with basic reading: Lecture notesHandoutsRelevant chapters in core texts. More detailed textsWhen you are familiar with the basics, go on to more detailed texts: Articles in journalsTexts referred to by your lecturerReferences in handoutsReferences in core texts. Be selectiveKeep the question in mind, and check that the material you read and note down is relevant to it. See also: Active readingTaking notesGathering informationYou are now ready to structure your essay.

5. Structuring essaysWhen you have finished researching your assignment and collected your material together, you need to plan your essay to give it a coherent and logical structure. Here are three methods of organising your material. See which you find most helpful (it might be a combination of two or more of them): a. Mind mapsb. Grid of pros and consc.

Index cards. a. Mind-mapsMind-mapping is especially useful for Visual Learners.

Draw your ideas on a large sheet of paper and use all of the page: Highlight in colourAdd linksUse different shapes to mean different things. See also: Mind mappingb. Grid of Pros and ConsAssign pluses and minuses to aspects of the essay question. c. Index cardsWrite a separate card for each key word.

Add: Important phrases, quotations and cross-references to your notesArrange: Try arranging the cards in various sequences until you find the one that works bestNumber: When you are happy with the order, number the cards. 6. Essay outlinesWhen you have organised the content of your assignment, you may think that you are ready to begin writing. Not quite. You need to draw up some outlines before you start writing.

First outline of an assignmentDecide how you will present the material, by writing an outline which shows the main points and subsidiary points. Following the earlier example: Mentally disordered offenders should be the responsibility of Health rather than the Criminal Justice System. Discuss. 1 Introduction 2 Historical treatment of mentally disordered offenders2. 1 First institution Baghdad 918 AD 2. 2 Bedlam hospital, 1247 (etc.

) 3 Modern treatments3. 1 C. Whittingham Beers, 1908, A Mind That Found Itself (etc.) 4 Advantages of present system (Criminal Justice System) (etc.) 5 Disadvantages of present system (etc.) 6 Advantages of other system (Health ) (etc.

) 7 Disadvantages of other system (etc.) 8 Conclusion. Second outline of an assignmentBefore you invest time in writing your essay, take a critical look over your first outline. Does it: mention the facts you intended to includepresent the facts in a logical sequence for example:- from simple to complex- from ancient to modern- from specific to general – from ineffective to effectivelist the material in a way that will make your case convincinglyIf you work with mind-mapping software like Inspiration, you can click a button to convert a mind-map to an outline.> Writing essays and assignments> return to the list of quick-reference guidesFurther ReadingYour next step should be to print out and work through the study guide Writing effectivelyYou might also want to work through the study guide Writing your DissertationThere are further helpful tips about writing essays in the section on Excellent Essays on Arts. Net

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