The seven stages of essay writing
As six of these stages must be completed before submitting your
work, you will need to prepare for your essay at least several weeks
before it is due.
1. Analysing the question
Underline key words in the essay question and think about it for at
least a few days before moving to the next stage. Make sure that you
understand every word in the question, and find definitions for any
words which are not clear cut in meaning.
2. Gathering material
Gather ideas and notes
for the essay from various sources (books; handouts; class notes; critical
3. Making a plan
Organise your ideas into a simple outline plan.
Write a full first version of your essay.
Print out your work and read over it in the light of the essay question.
Check that you have answered the question, and correct any errors and
omissions. Edit to remove irrelevant material and ensure that your work
is clear and concise. This stage needs to be done several times. Good
writing is a craft. High-quality academic writing must be honed and
refined over a series of drafts and revisions.
After at least several days away from your work, print out the essay
and proofread very carefully. Meticulously transfer your corrections
to the computer and print out the final copy.
Carefully read the comments provided by your marker and learn from
The first stage, analysing the question, is absolutely critical
for producing a successful essay. We'll focus on this stage in a
little more detail.