Checking your essay

With any piece of assessed written work, there are some basic points to be aware of in relation to demonstrating skills of communication and literacy, and which can make a significant difference to the quality of an answer, and therefore the mark which it receives.

Some of these points have already been raised in this section; the following checklist draws them together, and adds some extra ones:

  • Is your answer clear? (does it demonstrate clearly that you understand the subject about which you are writing?)
  • Is it expressed as concisely as possible? (remember the word limit)
  • Does it have a logical structure which makes it easy to follow?
  • Is it as accurate as possible (e.g.have you chosen the most appropriate sources to support your arguments? Have you used the exact wording of quotations or authority where appropriate, or given an accurate paraphrase?)
  • Does it answer the question which has been set?
  • Have you used your own words as far as possible, rather than copying chunks of text from e.g.your manuals? (your lecturer will want to see how clearly and effectively you can present ideas and analyse problems)
  • Have you referenced your sources correctly?
  • Have you acknowledged all your sources?
  • Have you identified the key issues, and not become sidetracked into minor or irrelevant points?
  • Is your answer long enough? Although the word limit is usually a maximum, rather than a figure up to which you are expected to write, if your answer is well short of the word limit, it is worth checking whether you have done all you need to
  • Have you given enough explanation? (the answer should be targeted at the intelligent novice, and not assume prior knowledge)
  • Have you done enough research and preparatory work?
  • Have you cited appropriate authority for every point of principle you have made?
  • Have you explained and applied your authorities appropriately?
  • Have you checked your spelling and grammar, and tried to avoid slang or other informal expressions?
  • Is your answer as neatly-typed as possible? (e.g.double-space between lines, wide margins)
  • Is your answer contained in the correct file format?
  • Is your bibliography in the correct format?
  • Have you provided a word count?
  • Is your personal information or identification on each page?
  • Is each page numbered?

A good piece of advice (if time and your other personal circumstances permit) is to put your completed piece of work aside for a little while, and then read it through again with the above issues in mind

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