Writing an Essay


When writing an essay there are things you can do to help you to stay focussed on what is relevant, so you do not waste any of the words you have. This article provides a short introduction to how you can write a successful essay.


Read the Question

A common way of making a mistake is to answer a question that you are not being asked. Take time to read the question carefully, making sure that you understand what each word means – if you aren’t sure, look it up. Also note what the question is asking you to do, such as comparing two things, looking at the impact of something, or exploring a particular topic on its own.


Plan your Answer

It can be useful to make a plan before you start writing. This can be done in whatever form is easiest for you, such as a diagram, bullet points, or paragraphs. You can keep adding to this as you go along, so that you do not forget to include anything in the essay itself.



Essays need an introduction, a main body and a conclusion.

  • The introduction is where you say what question you are answering, how you are going to answer it, and what you think you may find.
  • The main body is where all of your arguments go, and where you put references to support your statements, or disprove them.
  • The conclusion is where you round off your essay, summarising what you have discovered.

If possible the first and last sentence of the essay should be memorable. You don’t have to go over-the-top, but try and make them something that will encourage the reader to read your essay, and remember it.



One common mistake that people make when writing essays is not reviewing it when they have finished. It is easy to miss words that are spelt wrong, even with spell check, or words that you have missed out, or sentences that aren’t structured properly. These will make a difference to the mark you receive, so it is important that you get them right.


Other Points

  • Read the mark scheme, if you have it. This will tell you what the examiners are looking for, and what you need to demonstrate to reach get each mark.
  • Use the spell check, although be aware that if you have used a word that is wrong in that place, but is still a word, it won’t show up, so you also need to proofread your work yourself.
  • Make sure that you follow any referencing guidelines you have, because not doing so may cause you to lose marks.
  • Leave enough time to write your essay, with time for editing. Don’t leave it until the last minute.