In your work life- you will find yourself ‘writing’ many a time. People around you will be silently noting & checking your written presentation skills. These could be through the reports, formal emails, even hate letters & anything that you draft and send. “How to Write an Essay” shall help you in your essay writing endeavors for all times to come.
As a young student you are very likely to get formally evaluated on this skill. Many exams test you on Essay writing & presentation skills. Recently- B-schools & other good colleges (when you apply abroad) make you write an essay for the following reasons:
– They are looking for your ability to be logical.
– They want to check your focus & rationality.
– They are, of course, testing your language & writing skills.
– They are also looking at your spontaneous content generation skills.
You are of course, not expected to know it all. But, a decent & well structured representation can still make you stand out. Below are 5 things you can do to improve your essays & make them stellar (should you practise these points):
- Always follow a structure :
Remember that you cannot afford to babble in your essay. It has to have a proper chain of thought. Start with an introduction where you brief the examiner about your stand about the topic.
In the following paragraphs, follow a routine. If you are tracing a history, make sure you start from the beginning. If you are making a general commentary, ensure that the paragraphs are distinct and each of them has distinguishable content. Similarly, if you are making an analysis, keep the flow in the same way in which you arrived at the result.
Different kinds of topics will need different treatment. But always, have a structure & stick to it.
It will be a good idea to spend the first 2-3 minutes in rough drafting & adding skeleton structure to your points. You may also abbreviate in rough the analogies, the examples & the supporting logics that come to your mind. Then begin writing the formal thing.
- Keep it clean :
Imagine your newspapers without Headlines? No one will want to read them. Similar goes for your essays. It is advisable to follow the similar headline approach in the essays. I am not saying that you actually put a headline. I mean –begin every paragraph with an interesting line which positively eggs the reader to dive further. Have catchy headlines for each paragraph if you can. Depending upon your exam/ situation you may choose to highlight them / underline them too; so that they also catch the examiner’s easy eye.
Using bullets is a good way too. The more your essay looks clean and organized, the more you convey that even if you know very little about the topic (which might happen at times), you are a candidate who likes to be organized & proper with information.
Underlining important parts of the essay also helps. The examiner will surely read them! But, don’t overdo it. If you underline every second line, he will simply trash your essay.
- Use of language :
You are not expected to use very hi-fi language but they would be looking for conviction, similar to that of an SOP. It is advisable that you use simple but impactful words.
Your vocabulary need not be very expansive or thesaurus like. Simply reading articles on various topics on the newspaper / internet can help you build the required set of words. I would suggest that you read a few essays and go through topics that have generally been asked. Reading for a week or two and then starting to write two essays a day can do wonders to the repertoire of your words. Practise makes a man perfect. Oh wait! Women too 🙂
- Extra runs:
It is not very difficult to score them in an essay, to be very honest. Remember your hindi essays during school time. Weren’t you told to start with a bang? Same gets applied here. Begin your essay with one of the following if you can :
– A quote.
– An example
– A short story
– A comment
– A question
If placed well, these can do wonders to your essay. You can strategically place them anywhere in your essay. Underline / highlight them & score those extra runs.
Again, having them on your fingertips might be a problem. However, those who have had a habit of reading can sail through this very well.
- Conclusion :
The conclusion is a crucial part of the essay. More often than not, the introduction & the conclusion are the only parts that get read. Even if you put really great content in between, always make sure these two sections sum up your essay very well.
You may end with a quote or a provocative note (as mentioned above). Going through the editorials of some of the reputed national dailies for a week or two can really help you spruce up your essay-abilities.
Last but not the least, have a genuine tone to your writing. The examiner will always find a bit of your character in what you write & in the way you write. Saying more in fewer & powerful words, is an art that gets tested in an essay.
Very importantly- Practice it well. Write at least 10-12 essays (& get them checked from someone who can); before you finally get tested for your final essay. Trust me- It ain’t rocket science 🙂
Strongly recommend you to definitely read the following four blogposts:-
- How to crack every Interview that you sit for?
- How to write an SOP?
- How to write a good Resume & CV?
- 7 habits of highly ineffective Communicators
Work cleverly to become an awesome Communicator & a smart presenter. It will take you very far in life. Perceptions matter!