As the government begins its crackdown on essay mill websites, it’s easy to see just how much pressure students are under to get top grades for their coursework these days. But writing a high-scoring paper doesn’t need to be complicated. We spoke to experts to get some simple techniques that will raise your writing game.
Tim Squirrell is a PhD student at the University of Edinburgh, and is teaching for the first time this year. When he was asked to deliver sessions on the art of essay-writing, he decided to publish a comprehensive (and brilliant) blog on the topic, offering wisdom gleaned from turning out two or three essays a week for his own undergraduate degree.
“There is a knack to it,” he says. “It took me until my second or third year at Cambridge to work it out. No one tells you how to put together an argument and push yourself from a 60 to a 70, but once you to get grips with how you’re meant to construct them, it’s simple.”
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The goal of writing any essay is to show that you can think critically about the material at hand (whatever it may be). This means going beyond regurgitating what you’ve read; if you’re just repeating other people’s arguments, you’re never going to trouble the upper end of the marking scale.
“You need to be using your higher cognitive abilities,” says Bryan Greetham, author of the bestselling How to Write Better Essays. “You’re not just showing understanding and recall, but analysing and synthesising ideas from different sources, then critically evaluating them. That’s where the marks lie.”
But what does critical evaluation actually look like? According to Squirrell, it’s simple: you need to “poke holes” in the texts you’re exploring and work out the ways in which “the authors aren’t perfect”.
“That can be an intimidating idea,” he says. “You’re reading something that someone has probably spent their career studying, so how can you, as an undergraduate, critique it?
“The answer is that you’re not going to discover some gaping flaw in Foucault’s History of Sexuality Volume 3, but you are going to be able to say: ‘There are issues with these certain accounts, here is how you might resolve those’. That’s the difference between a 60-something essay and a 70-something essay.”
Critique your own arguments
Once you’ve cast a critical eye over the texts, you should turn it back on your own arguments. This may feel like going against the grain of what you’ve learned about writing academic essays, but it’s the key to drawing out developed points.
“We’re taught at an early age to present both sides of the argument,” Squirrell continues. “Then you get to university and you’re told to present one side of the argument and sustain it throughout the piece. But that’s not quite it: you need to figure out what the strongest objections to your own argument would be. Write them and try to respond to them, so you become aware of flaws in your reasoning. Every argument has its limits and if you can try and explore those, the markers will often reward that.”
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Fine, use Wikipedia then
The use of Wikipedia for research is a controversial topic among academics, with many advising their students to stay away from the site altogether.
“I genuinely disagree,” says Squirrell. “Those on the other side say that you can’t know who has written it, what they had in mind, what their biases are. But if you’re just trying to get a handle on a subject, or you want to find a scattering of secondary sources, it can be quite useful. I would only recommend it as either a primer or a last resort, but it does have its place.”
Focus your reading
Reading lists can be a hindrance as well as a help. They should be your first port of call for guidance, but they aren’t to-do lists. A book may be listed, but that doesn’t mean you need to absorb the whole thing.
Squirrell advises reading the introduction and conclusion and a relevant chapter but no more. “Otherwise you won’t actually get anything out of it because you’re trying to plough your way through a 300-page monograph,” he says.
You also need to store the information you’re gathering in a helpful, systematic way. Bryan Greetham recommends a digital update of his old-school “project box” approach.
“I have a box to catch all of those small things – a figure, a quotation, something interesting someone says – I’ll write them down and put them in the box so I don’t lose them. Then when I come to write, I have all of my material.”
There are a plenty of online offerings to help with this, such as the project management app Scrivener and referencing tool Zotero, and, for the procrastinators, there are productivity programmes like Self Control, which allow users to block certain websites from their computers for a set period.
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Look beyond the reading list
“This is comparatively easy to do,” says Squirrell. “Look at the citations used in the text, put them in Google Scholar, read the abstracts and decide whether they’re worth reading. Then you can look on Google Scholar at other papers that have cited the work you’re writing about – some of those will be useful. But quality matters more than quantity.”
And finally, the introduction
The old trick of dealing with your introduction last is common knowledge, but it seems few have really mastered the art of writing an effective opener.
“Introductions are the easiest things in the world to get right and nobody does it properly,” Squirrel says. “It should be ‘Here is the argument I am going to make, I am going to substantiate this with three or four strands of argumentation, drawing upon these theorists, who say these things, and I will conclude with some thoughts on this area and how it might clarify our understanding of this phenomenon.’ You should be able to encapsulate it in 100 words or so. That’s literally it.”
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Education essay: The Value of Education
Published under category: Writing Ideas | 2015-06-12 08:43:22 UTC
Education is one of the basic activities in every society. Most people view education as a formal process of acquiring knowledge that takes place in a class environment. Education is a process that starts right at birth. It is not a process that is limited to teaching people basic academics like mathematics, history, computer or geography. It is a much wider term. Education can be considered as a process of discovering new things that a person was not previously aware of and increasing knowledge. Education carries people to greatness. It is an essential thing in life because it empowers people with knowledge, enables them to contribute to the society, earn money, and be independent.
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The term “education” originated from Latin word “educate” which means to “bring up.” The use of the term “education” should, therefore, not be limited to the process of imparting knowledge to pupils in some specific subjects. It is a wholesome process of developing a child by training them in habits and attitudes that nurture them to success and ability to face the future life with confidence. According to Plato, education is a process that is meant to develop all the beauty and perfection that a child is capable of, both in the body and soul. In short, Plato implied that it is a process of developing both a sound mind and a sound body. Education aims at developing all the faculties of man, especially the mind, so as to appreciate the contemplation of supreme goodness, truth, and beauty, which contribute to perfect happiness.
Education is very important because it is an avenue that facilitates the process of cultural transmission. All societies credit their existence to culture. Education allows the culture of a society to be transmitted to young people, hence, the continuation of society. Every new generation has to be educated in the ways of the group so as to promote the existence of the traditions. Education fulfills the needs of each society, as every society has its specific ways of doing things. A good example is the African communities, as much of their culture has not been influenced by the modern education. The communities have an initiation stage at adolescence that is meant to graduate people to adulthood. During this period, the initiates are taught all the ways and secrets of the community. The initiates are then considered to be full members of that particular society in which they have been initiated.
Education is a process that promotes socialization. A large part of a person’s social skills are acquired through the process of education. Socialization is an important aspect of human life, hence, has to be promoted positively to be beneficial to the society. Most governments have invested in education because they realize the importance of socialization. Education forms a continuous process in which definite ways of perception, acting, and feeling are imposed into a child for them to fit it into the society. The process of education allows young people to develop socialization skills that they cannot acquire spontaneously. It facilitates the transmission of the norms of a group so that persons can conduct themselves in approved ways. They are able to know things that are wrong and right.
Education allows people to fit in different stages of life. Social learning is a continuous process that starts at birth and ends at death. No human being can achieve total perfection in it. There is no point in time that individuals can consider themselves to have acquired everything about a society or group, and that there remains nothing to be studied. Human beings belong to different groups at different stages of their lives. While in these groups, they have to learn new rules and patterns to govern their behavior. People do not play the same roles throughout their lives. Education helps them fit in the different roles that they are faced with in life. Human life begins with childhood; they get into adolescence then adulthood, marry, sire children, get into middle life, retire, and then eventually become old and die. The different roles come with different patterns of behavior, which have to be learnt. This implies that throughout the life of a human being, people are involved in the education process. It helps in developing skills that are important for different stages of life.
Education is important because it helps individuals to acquire knowledge. Acquisition of knowledge is also a continuous process. Knowledge comprises a large sphere of concepts that are boundless and limitless. No one can master all the concepts or exhaust them. The world is a miraculous entity that is comprised of a lot of things. The more one tries to know about something, the more it becomes mysterious. Human entities, therefore, strive to acquire as much knowledge as possible about the universe; although, this is a limited process that is hampered with complexities. Education facilitates the continuous endeavor to acquire knowledge.
Education creates employment. The field of education has created many job opportunities in the world. Governments budget huge sums of money to be used in the education sector in doing research and employing teachers. The research process has opened different opportunities that previously did not exist. The industries and inventions that are in the world are the outcomes of education. The industries provide a lot of employment opportunities to people. The education sector has also employed millions of people to work as teachers, lecturers, and researchers among others. Education provides a source of income to those who are employed in the education sector and the students who are being taught. Education empowers young people with knowledge that is essential for various fields. After one’s completion of the college, they are able to get jobs in different institutions, hence, earn a living.
Education forms the basis of a good life. Human beings get to understand themselves through the process of education. One gets to understand themselves fully as a human being through the process of education. The training of the human mind helps them to see things differently compared to other creatures. One is, therefore, transformed from primarily being an animal to being a human. The process of education empowers human beings to be superior to other beings, and make the most out of their environment to live a good life. Living a good life does not only imply having the material needs, but also understanding the significance of life. A man who lives a good life understands what they live for and the things that they need to struggle to get. Education allows man to live an integrated life, that is, a life with significance.
Education enables people to live a peaceful life. People understand the importance of everything that is in the universe, hence, relate to them in a peaceful way. Education has enabled people to understand that all human beings are similar regardless of the color, cultural, and geographical differences. Previously, people have been involved in superiority battles, with some races feeling superior and others feeling inferior. The process of education, however, empowers human beings to understand that a color is merely a surface difference, hence, need not be used to discriminate people. Besides, human beings are able to co-exist peacefully with other animals and the environment. Man has learnt the significance of preserving the environment, therefore, ensuring that they live a peaceful and healthy life.
Education is valuable because it gives man freedom. An educated man knows the things they should do and things they should not. They do not have to rely on other people’s instructions for them to engage in various activities. The knowledge gained from the education process empowers a person to act with authority without the need to continuously consult other people. One is given the intellectual freedom to engage in different activities as they wish.
Education is, therefore, a very important tool that is essential for every person. Education helps people to develop positive social relations, fit in different stages of life, acquire knowledge, and live a good and peaceful life. Education also empowers people with skills that enable them to gain employment, hence, be empowered economically. It is, therefore, important that everyone invests in education.ORDER PLAGIARISM FREE PAPER Post a comment
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