Tuesday, 14 October 2014

40 Tips & Tricks for Essay Writing Success (1F95)

40 Tips & Tricks for Essay Writing Success
Brought to you by: EDUC 1F95 14/15 - Seminar 15 & 16 – TA: Monica Taylor

1.     Do a bit every day so it gets done without a ton of stress.
2.     Start ASAP! Get a structure down early and take your time. Leave time for editing.
3.     DO NOT leave it until the night before. Give yourself time to write each draft and paragraph.
5.     Provide yourself with little rewards when you write to keep yourself motivated!
6.     Go for a walk! Do not underestimate fresh air!
7.     Organize by day what you want to be done certain things. This way you feel less stressed and overwhelmed by the amount of work. Example:
a.     Day 1 – topic
b.     Day 2-5 – Research
c.      Day 6-7 – Thesis / Intro
d.     Day 8-13 – Writing
e.     Day 14-18 – Edit, Edit, Edit!
8.     Start working on the essay as soon as possible and try to finish it a few days early.
9.     Chocolate.
10. Don’t wait until the last minute, work on it in small bits over time. Just don’t leave it to the night before!
11. Don’t underestimate writing out the rough outline. Even the roughest, barest outline helps when guiding you when pouring out ideas onto the page.
12. Plain and simple: plan and structure!
13. Proofread and then have someone else read it.
14. Don’t wait until the last minute!
15. If you have a friend in the class, make the same mini deadlines and help each other stick to them! Treat yourselves to a coffee when you reach a certain point!
16. You can never have too many references when planning out your essay.
17. Cut out all external distractions (music, TV and cellphone YES YOUR CELLPHONE)
18. Find references before you begin writing your essay since this will help shape your thesis and make your overall paper stronger.
19. Use advantage plus in your EDUC 1F95 Sakai Tab to help you. (EDUC1F95 Specific)
20. Make sure that you have all materials ready. Organization and understanding of the assignment is key.
21. Leave a day (minimum) in between writing each body paragraph.
22. Use a clear outline to help organize your thoughts and make writing your essay easier.
23. Write a general rough draft with everything you think is relevant, then leave it for a day or two and go back to edit it. You will have a clearer mind, and notice more of your mistakes.
24. Write a first draft and then don’t look at the assignment until a few days later. It will help you clear your mind.
25. Editing is half the battle. Content is important, but editing and finalizing your paper always increases your mark.
26. Take a break in between essay writing and editing to look at it with a clear head. (Movie break!)
27. Before deciding that you ‘can’t do this’ or you ‘can’t find enough info’ read back through your course notes and required texts with an open mind and with your general topic ready to explore.
28. Research, research, research!
29. When you have all of your information (even more than you need), writing will come easy to you.
30. Remember the rule of thirds! 1/3 Research 1/3 Writing 1/3 Editing
31. BRAINSTORM! Read your essay over and over!
32. If you find something relevant while researching, quote it and cite it right away. Make it accurate and add WHY it seemed relevant (this makes your research easier to use later).
33. Finish essay early and email it to your mom or dad and get them to read and provide suggestions.
34. Tell the people you live with you’re writing so if you try to distract yourself, they can tell you off!
35. Write! Don’t stop! Don’t edit! You done? NOW EDIT! #DRAFTSDRAFTSDRAFTS
36. Take a deep breath. And keep taking them.
37. E-mail your TA if you have any questions. REMEMBER you can’t e-mail them 48 hours before an assignment is due. Be prepared! (EDUC 1F95 Specific)
38. Use your Making Sense book. Show it off to your friends how much easier writing an essay is now that you have started learning tips from the book.
39. Try having a visually accessible calendar with your mini deadlines on it to keep you on track.
40. Be proud of your own work. Be proud of your progress. Don’t underestimate yourself! You’ve got this!


  1. Quite the list! Great job organising this with students, as co-collaborative learning is often more powerful (and insightful) than traditional teacher-centred learning. While a few are repeated (obviously because they are important :P), the only caution would be with number 21, especially if that essay is lengthy. :)

  2. Wow. What a list. I wonder how this works for students? It is a long list and great advice. A bit scary (overwhelming) for me…. Do you follow these “rules”. Is the Oxford book helpful? It must be as it is in its 5th edition. I wish I could follow these rules but when writing I follow “my instincts” rules. They don’t work that well as I am constantly rewriting and editing again and again. Well actually maybe I do follow the “rules”. I think a very important ‘rule’ is to get someone else’s eye on the paper before it is done. But then you have to complete it before deadline. Writing – tough stuff. Glad the grad students can all write by the time I see them!

    1. Susan & Tyler,

      I responded to your comments in class but would like to post my response on here. These responses were collected from the 37 students in my two seminars. I wanted to ensure that everyone's contributions made it onto the list which is why you may see some repeating concepts. That speaks to the 'tried, tested, & true' adage of these helpful tips and tricks (i.e. Do not leave your work until the last possible minute!)

      Tyler, I agree with you that #21 would only apply to certain academic assignments. The assignment in mind when writing these rules (a 1500 word essay for first year Intro to Education - 1F95 course), lent itself to being a more manageable trick.

      Susan, I would say that present day Monica would say YES I do use these tips and tricks. These tips and tricks coming to light in my fifth and sixth year of post-secondary are embedded in my sense of academia. I would have benefited from seeing a list created by and with my peers to reiterate the importance of some of these writing rules earlier in my academic career.

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