Top 10 Essay Writing Tips for Students

Top 10 Essay Writing Tips for Students

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There are many writers that inspire. And when it comes academic essay writing, rather surprisingly you may think, writers of fiction can have some great tips.

Roald Dahl day celebrated on 13th September 2016, looks at the work of this inspiring children’s author. For aspiring authors, he has sage advice regarding the discipline of writing.

For example, he advocated that top of the list for any writer, no matter what their assignment, was the correct writing environment. The environment around you inspires you, just as much as it can hamper.

Sitting in a corner, surrounded by junk and clutter may not be the best environment, conducive to completing writing assignments and online creative writing courses.

Essay writing

Dahls’ tips could also extend to those students who have an assignment looming.

Combining both Dahl’s tips with those specific to essay writing, these top 10 ideas for getting an assignment written are all that you need;

#1 Start early and schedule your time

An essay has a deadline and the closer this deadline, the more panic-stricken you will feel.

It may seem like a long way off but with the reading needed to complete the essay, drafting and polishing to give the final product, you may find that time ticks away faster than you think.

An essay written in advance of a deadline gives a far better read than one written hastily the night before.

#2 Understand the question being asked

All too often, students lose valuable marks because, although a well-written essay, it is not answering the question.

Is the question asking you to critically evaluate or discuss what happened during the Night of the Long Knives in Nazi Germany? Is the question asking you to review the products used in a facial for very dry skin or, is the question asking you to compare and contrast the novels of Roald Dahl?


Every assignment question will have key words in it. Pinpoint what they are and, as you write your assignment, keep referring back to the question.

#3 Get organised
You have started your assignment well in advance, you have pinpointed the key words in the question so know you need to get organised.

Before putting pen to paper, get your research done. What text books do you have that cover the topic? What can you find online?

Online creative writing courses can be useful in helping you to order your thoughts and materials too.

#4 Learn by example

Dahl was a great advocate of looking at other people’s work and understanding how they had structured their pieces.

The same is true for assignments although with the digital age, it can be tempting when the going gets tough to copy or plagiarise other people’s work.

All education providers and qualification agencies take a very dim view of passing someone else’s work off as your own. Don’t do it.

#5 Keep track of quotations and citations

When you use someone else’s work in the body of your essay, you must acknowledge their work. However, there is nothing more frustrating than having a really great quote written in your notes but you cannot find who it belonged to or where you found it!

Referencing your reading and other ideas is an important tool in academic writing; thus, be organised with keeping reference materials.

#6 Dash off a quick draft

All too often, when a student starts writing an assignment, they start to labour unnecessarily – starting with the introduction.

A top tip is to dash off a quick draft, not overly worrying about style or grammar. Think of this as an outline narrative of where you want to start and the points that you want to cover.

Creative writers start their novels in different ways; JK Rowling, for example, makes a table of chapters, noting the key points for each. Others dash off a synopsis, similar to the suggestion here. Online creative writing courses can be a minefield of information and tips on getting your writing started.

#7 Keep drafting

Once you have your narrative draft, you can now start to edit. Cut things out, expand on points, back up opinion with references and quotations…

#8 Check the word count You will now be at a point where you have a product not far from being finished. But it is a 1,000 words too long or 200 words too short. Keep polishing!

#9 Presentation

Now you have the more or less finished product, format it so that it meets the requirements of the course, as well as ensuring it looks the part. It should be typed clearly, with 1.5 or double spacing between lines, and easy to read with no spelling errors or glaring grammatical faux paus.

#10 Give it chance to mature…

… before you hand it in or send it off to your tutor.

Sometimes, we are too close to the piece, meaning we cannot see glaring mistakes or obvious omissions. Take a break from it but give it a final read through a few days later.

Roald Dahl Day celebrates the author – why not find out more about this charismatic author?

Nick Cooper
Nick is NCC's resident blog author and covers a range of subjects, including teaching and health & social care. NCC is an international learning provider with over 20 years’ experience offering learning solutions. To date, NCC has engaged with over 20,000 employers, and delivered quality training to over half a million learners.
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