Professional young man writing in a notebook on a yellow sofa

With university now in full swing, it's likely that many of you will be in the midst of tackling your first essays. Although, on paper, it's easy enough to understand why you need to produce a good piece of work - to do well and gain the grades to get in to second year, it might be more of a struggle than you think. Here are a few tips to help you prepare so that you can get those top marks!


Planning is perhaps the most important phase of the essay-writing process, and it's probably likely that you don't do enough of it! A plan can include the estimated number of hours the essay will take, when you are going to write the assignment - whether it's around your lectures or at the same time every day, which sources you are going to use and where they might be, and any other relevant information pertaining to the assignment. Once you've sorted out your plan you've a better understanding of where to start and will also help you stay on track when procrastination ensues. 

Understand the Requirements

If you've been given an understanding of what is expected from you in the essay, especially in terms of the requirements and specifications, remember to read through these. This is particularly important during your first university essays as you haven't yet found your feet and are not too sure how well you are doing to do. Remember that there are marks for unexpected components at university, for example getting your references right, so make sure that you understand this before you start. You may like to note the most important points and use these as a checklist once the work is completed and is ready for submission. 

Detailed Research

Once the exact requirements and the question is understood, the next thing to do is to carry out your research. Although you'll want to make notes while doing your research, try and write your essay after all the research is done, as you'll find yourself changing your mind and re-writing large chunks of it and wasting time. You'll also have a word limit on your essay, and after reading all the material you'll know where to go with it and hopefully be close to your word limit. Writing everything at the end also means that you've also got a structure in place, making the essay look well designed and less bitty, especially if you write it over the course of a few days.


Once you've completed the tasks above, you can finally start writing. Make sure that your planned answer is related to the question and ask yourself how the different stands of evidence you've gathered relate to one another. Once you've worked this out, get cracking and good luck!