6 secrets to have a great writing essay

6 secrets to writing a great essay - [ieltsmaterial.com]
6 secrets to writing a great essay - [ieltsmaterial.com]

Why does the word “essay” strike terror into the hearts of students? Maybe because a blank page can seem like the size of Antarctica when you’re not sure how to fill it.

We share some essay writing secrets with you…

Tip 1: Open with a hook

You’ve created a great title – now what? Well, ideally you want your first sentence to be equally great. Good openings include:

  • A question.
  • A quote.
  • A bold or controversial statement (that you’ll attempt to either prove or refute).
  • An attention grabbing statistic or piece of information.
  • An anecdote – the perfect opening anecdote should be relevant, interesting and illuminating. For inspiration, read the work of Malcolm Gladwell – he’s a master at using them.

Tip 2: Begin with the end in mind

This will give your work direction. Trying to write an essay without this is like the difference between getting on a horse that gallops straight towards its destination and wandering around aimlessly without a map. Yes, you might find your way eventually but it’ll take a lot longer. Know where you’re going and make that clear to the reader from the outset.

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Tip 3: Give it a striking title

Try to avoid giving your essay the same title as everyone else in your class. For instance, if your essay is about the causes of World War 2 then 90% of your classmates will probably call their essay “The Causes of World War 2”. But you’re more original than that, so prove it – for instance, you could use a relevant quote about your topic or create a startling image that pulls the reader in. George Orwell’s famous essay, Shooting an Elephant, does the latter.

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Tip 4: Don’t let the reader go to sleep!

Don’t let the reader go to sleep!
Don’t let the reader go to sleep!

Remember – your teacher is marking dozens of essays so if you keep your work interesting they’ll love you for it. Try:

  • Linking from paragraph to paragraph to create flow.
  • Including well-chosen quotes.
  • Addressing questions to the reader.
  • Using appropriate humour – satire and irony can be very effective in an academic essay. Use both sparingly though.
  • Experimenting with misdirection – create an expectation that you’re making a particular argument then turn things on their head midway through.
  • Including short, relevant anecdotes.

Tip 5: Omit unnecessary words

This will tighten your work and give it flow. Don’t be tempted to pad.

Omit unnecessary wordsTip 6: End it well 

Ever seen a brilliant movie with a rubbish ending? Didn’t it spoil the whole film with you? Exactly. Don’t do the same for the essay you’ve spent hours slaving over. Effective endings include:

  • Linking back to your opening sentence.
  • Finding a quote that sums up your argument.
  • Using a strong piece of concluding imagery.
  • Asking a final question (which can be rhetorical).

Remember – your essay is a journey that you’re taking the reader on. Make it as enjoyable as possible so that when they reach their destination, they feel that it’s all been worthwhile.

Written By

Nafia Zuhana is an experienced content writer and IELTS Trainer. Currently, she is guiding students who are appearing for IELTS General and Academic exams through ieltsmaterial.com. With an 8.5 score herself, she trains and provides test takers with strategies, tips, and nuances on how to crack the IELTS Exam. She holds a degree in Master of Arts – Creative Writing, Oxford Brookes University, UK. She has worked with The Hindu for over a year as an English language trainer.

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