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Planning Your Essay

Planning is the first stage in writing an academic essay. Your plan is the foundation that your essay is built on. Planning your academic essay involves understanding the assignment, brainstorming ideas, organizing your thoughts in a structured form, and developing a thesis statement.

Top Tips

  • Be clear about what the assignment requires. Carefully read the assignment before you start writing.
  • Make sure you understand the directions you are given.Be sure that you can distinguish between the command words that are used. For example, ‘discuss’ is different from ‘critique’.
  • Test your thesis or claim.Does it make your reader ask why? If not, revise it until it does.
  • Give yourself sufficient time.You will need time to do your thinking, researching, writing, and revising.
  • Underline the keywords in the assignment.Make sure you are not missing a key part of what you are being asked to do.
  • Turn off the critical mind.Let your ideas flow and record them.
  • Group ideas together. Read your ideas and find the major categories.
  • Take a stance that argues a point.Try to identify a point that you want to make with your ideas.
  • Ask and answer ‘why?’Your stance must provoke a 'why' question and your essay must answer the 'why' question.
  • Organize your ideasCreate an organizer that captures your ideas in a form that works for you.

Additional Resources