We all know the feeling of pure desperation and hopelessness as we scrowl through facebook the day before an essay is due hoping for some form of devine intervention. Its April now and that familiar feeling of dread is being felt in colleges throughout Ireland as deadlines creep up. We’d all rtaher spend the night in Coppers drinking some form of alcohol to forget about the stresses of college life but i”m here to say its going to be grand. As an English and History graduate I know what its like to want to bulk under the pressure. I was never a straight A student but my grades in college gradually got better thanks to sticking by some essential rules. I’m going to start by stating the obvious that you’ll hear from pretty much every lecturer and tutor:

Start Early. Planning is key. Make sure you have the bones of a beginning, middle and ending. Write out a draft and get someone’s opinion. Not everything in your plan is going to be part of your essay so don’t worry if you’re not sure about including certain points. Just jot down what you think is important and you can strutinize further down the line. Research is an essential part of your planning. Don’t wait until the last minute to cite material. Have a list of all the sources you want to use and even those that you might use. The other thing I would say and it may sound obvious again but make sure that you’re answering the question. Circle important words and keep referring back to the said question. Drifting and avoiding the question can be a fatal mistake and one I learnt the hard way…

Flow is everything: Your essay should be easy to read. The most well researched, extensive essay can get a medicore grade because it doesn’t read well. Avoid using overly long or short sentences as this can distrupt the rythm. Try not to overuse certain words. Use a thesaurus if you need to widen your vocabulary. Its also important to link your points. The end of one paragraph should feed nicely into the next. Don’t completely abandon one point and move on to the next. Instead, build on the previous paragraph or even compare the argument in the paragraph with something else.

Edit, edit and edit some more: This is key. Its highly likely that there are going to be spelling and grammer errors and these can be hugely damaging grade wise. It might be a good idea to get someone else to look over the essay as we have a tendency to put the blinkers on when reading our own work. You might look like a bit of a weirdo but reading your essay out loud can also be very helpful. Microsoft word also has a robot guy, lets call him Kevin for now, that reads out the text. This can be another useful tool to reduce spelling and grammer errors


Don’t let one bad essay get you down:

Failure is the best form of learning. Pay attention to the comments made by the examiner and write them down somewhere safe. Just because you got a D in that History essay doesn’t mean you should drop out of college. There’s plently of time to improve that GPA so keep positive and you’ll be okay