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Step-By-Step Guide to Essay Writing

Step-By-Step Guide to Essay Writing

Read the essay question carefully

  • Highlight key words.
  • Use the dictionary to check the meaning of any unfamiliar words.
  • Identify the task words that indicate what needs to be done, eg “discuss”, “explain”, “compare”.
  • Identify the topic words that indicate the particular subject of the essay, eg the character of “Juliet” in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, the “causes” of World War 1.
  • Identify any limiting words that restrict the discussion to a particular area, eg in “Chapters 1-3”, during the “nineteenth century”.

Finish any necessary reading or research as background to the essay



  • Be selective: use sources which are relevant and accessible.
  • Write notes in your own words.
  • Write down quotations that may be particularly useful, but ensure the source of these quotes is acknowledged if they’re used.
  • Take note of sources so they can be provided in footnotes and the bibliography.

Brainstorm ideas in response to the question



  • Jot down any relevant points.
  • Make note of any relevant evidence or quotes that come to mind.
  • Use a mind map to help stimulate lateral thinking.


Step-By-Step Guide to Essay Writing