How To Write Essay for Students || Pg 1 / 3


1. Analyse the question

Student essays are responses to specific questions. As an essay must address the question directly, your first step should be to analyze the question. Make sure you know exactly what is being asked of you.
Generally, essay questions contain three component parts:

1. Content terms: Key concepts that are specific to the task
2. Limiting terms: The scope that the topic focuses on
3. Directive terms: What you need to do in relation to the content, e.g. discuss, analyze, define, compare, evaluate.



Look at the following essay question:
"Discuss the importance of light in Gothic architecture".
*Content terms: Gothic architecture
*Limiting terms: the importance of light. If you discussed some other feature of Gothic architecture, for example spires or arches, you would be deviating from what is required. This essay question is limited to a discussion of light. Likewise, it asks you to write about the importance of light – not, for example, to discuss how light enters Gothic churches.
*Directive term: discuss. This term asks you to take a broad approach to the variety of ways in which light may be important for Gothic architecture. You should introduce and consider different ideas and opinions that you have met in academic literature on this topic, citing them appropriately.
For a more complex question, you can highlight the key words and break it down into a series of sub-questions to make sure you answer all parts of the task. Consider the following question (from Arts):

To what extent can the American Revolution be understood as a revolution ‘from below’? Why did working people become involved and with what aims in mind?
The key words here are American Revolution and revolution ‘from below’. This is a view that you would need to respond to in this essay. This response must focus on the aims and motivations of working people in the revolution, as stated in the second question.
2. Define your argument
As you plan and prepare to write the essay, you must consider what your argument is going 
to be. 
This means taking an informed position or point of view on the topic presented in the question, then defining and presenting a specific argument.
Consider these two argument statements:
 The architectural use of light in Gothic cathedrals physically embodied the significance of light 
in medieval theology.
In the Gothic cathedral of Cologne, light served to accentuate the authority and ritual centrality
 of the priest.
Statements like these define an essay’s argument. They give coherence by providing an overarching theme and position towards which the entire essay is directed.

Post a Comment


Be the first to leave your comments

Post a Comment (0)