Good essays demonstrate ... focus

Planning and reading will provide a means for any writing to remain focused on addressing the central issues of the question with which a writer is faced. From the moment that an essay question is set the writer should be engaged in the process of focusing upon the key elements which will enable them to successfully answer it. Writers should look at whether they have considered:

1) What is the question asking?

It is important that the central question of the essay is understood (see above) and it is essential throughout the writing process that this is in your mind. It is crucial that the writer engages in reflective practice throughout the writing process in order to remain focused upon answering the central question.

2) Course materials?

In writing an essay related to a course or unit of work, it is important that you show evidence of having understood and made use of the materials which have been discussed as a part of your studies. Part of a tutor’s assessment will be made on whether you have made good use of the relevant materials which have been provided for you in answering a particular question.

3) Understanding of concepts and ideas?

One of the key elements of a good essay is in the writer's ability to express their understanding of concepts and ideas in their own words. Written work should illustrate the writer’s processes in coming up with their particular argument or proposition whilst demonstrating how the writings of others either agree or disagree with them. On occasion it will be necessary or pertinent to quote directly from others: when this is the case it is important that the original author is acknowledged through correct referencing, in the style dictated by the College or University. For instructions and advice about plagiarism and correct referencing please refer to (This needs to be inserted).

4) Reasoned and articulate proposition?

The mark of a good essay is one which contains relevant information which focuses upon the question at hand, following a logical argument from beginning to end. Being able to construct a precise reasoned, clearly expressed answer to a question is an indication of having a firm grasp of a unit's contents and an ability to think logically in applying the information which has been learnt. The approach which should be adopted is one of objectivity where information has been analysed and used in a discussion or in the proposition of a particular point of view - this point of view, whatever it might be, must be based upon logical reasoning in the light of recent information.

5) Technical factors?

The section on presentation above covers these issues.

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