Planning begins with an analysis of the question order to decide how to go about answering it. It is often useful to underline the keywords or terms with the question which allows you to identify the important issues which need to be addressed. It is also important that you are clear as to what the question is actually asking you to do (discuss, analyse). Having completed this exercise it is important to reread the question again to ensure that you fully understand its implications.
It is often the case that essay questions can be broken down into sub-questions which can form either sections or paragraphs to fully address the question. This particular exercise will help in focusing your efforts in terms of specific reading which will work hand-in-hand with the reading you have done as part of your module or unit.
Having considered the question it is important to set down some initial ideas and thoughts about the question; this can be achieved through using mind maps or spider diagrams in order to clarify and order your thoughts. It also provides you with a starting point with regard to your own point of view and any proposition which might be offered.
On the completion of your detailed reading, further planning needs to be done in order to quantify your findings and order them prior to writing. This allows you to highlight specific issues and place them in order which allows for a clearly reasoned argument or proposition to develop through your writing. This process allows you to make decisions about what to include to answer the question comprehensively (University of Reading, 2012).
Planning also includes how to introduce and conclude your piece of writing. Introductions provide a means through which a reader gains access to your writing and your ideas; it explains what the question is about, why the question is of importance (placing it in context and clarifying any issues which might arise) and the means through which it is going to be tackled. Conclusions provide a summary of the main points of your argument in relation to the question and illustrate how you have come to your particular position. Conclusions should present the reader with a picture of your ideas which is clear and positive in nature (University of Reading, 2012a).
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