The fundamentals of Academic English Essay

G’day, what’s up mate? Today, I am going to talk about the fundamentals of academic English essay. Many international students coming from non-English speaking countries tend to struggle to handle essay assignments. Luckily, I was alright, because I’d sort of mastered the “how-to” prior to starting my Master’s program in Australia. The overwhelming majority of international students are attending some kinds of preparation courses for their undergrad or postgrad studies at a language school attached to a uni. However, they don’t really get the hang of the fundamentals of how academic essays should be written. I hope my blog helps a bit. Let’s get underway!

First and foremost, fully understand the question prompt given to you, and start extensive research

It is nonsense if you don’t really 100% understand the question prompt and jump the gun. If you do like that, you’re going to absolutely write about an off-topic, and as a consequence you’re preordained to receive not more than 50% mark or in some cases zero (fail). To not make this mistake, please do read the given question super-carefully, and ponder precisely what would be required to deal with. Don’t start your research unless you’ve fully understood what is asking and required to do.

After having fully understood the question prompt, off you go! If you have really no idea about things what the question’s topic is about, then having a flick through Wikipedia might be a good starting point for you. But, keeping in mind the fact that you do not quote any information emanating from Wikipedia due to lack of authority and academic credibility. Then, you’re going to delve deeper into the topic by referring to a great number of academic journals, books, treatises or governmental documents, etc.

Second, collect a large literature on the subject you’re working on, and jot down all the necessary information such as author’s and publication’s info and quoted pages for your bibliography or reference lists

I’m 100% sure that you’re going to be stuck and it’ll take a heavy toll on the progress and result of your essay if you don’t go through this process. Even if you write things on the right track, you’ll be heavily penalised due to your essay having no proper reference list. Someone does, in fact. So, if you’re preparing for this and researching at the same time, you won’t 100% miss out. I highly recommend doing so every time you’ve got an essay assignment.

Simply, you note down authors’ info, publications’ info and specific details of where and what you want to quote. But ideally, when you write down the author’s idea, you should paraphrase it using your own words, not stealing exactly the same words. Paraphrasing skill is critical to your research. Furthermore, with regard to preparing for a reference list, there are several reference systems. So, this is up to the uni and program you’ve matriculated. Please check this carefully. the vast majority of uni in Australia has adopted APA or Harvard internal citation system. If you want to learn academic skills, please feel free to contact me, so that I can offer you a special program for the mastery of all essential academic skills.

Third, start writing your introduction and then conclusion, not body!

After having done all the essential research and memos, you try to synthesise them and finalise your core argument and concluding remarks. Then, you start writing a piece of your introduction and conclusion. According to general marking criteria, your introduction and conclusion’s argument has to be consistent, and repeated it by saying in a different way or expression. Repetition is the enemy of academic essay. And, I don’t reckon it happens unlike in-class or handwriting final exams, but without conclusions you’ll almost 100% receive substantially lower marks even if you’ve written an excellent body paragraphs.

Fourth, write your body paragraphs step by step

After having finished up your introduction and conclusion, you start writing body paragraphs. As you probably know, first you set up a piece of a thesis statement, followed by the expansion of details, examples, evidences and mini-conclusions. That’s how the mechanics of each body para is supposed to be written. Some international students tend to use several quotes or ideas coming from different references within one paragraph, which is fine unless you use them in an appropriate way. However, many of them just mess up here. I shall call this ‘a patchwork of someone’s ideas’. This essay is indubitably deemed to be a terrible unlettered essay.

Last but not least, do proofread what you’ve written, and ascertain whether there is absolutely not logical faultiness and referential dishonesty

In the last stage, you’ve got to edit your completed essay in terms of, particularly, grammar, word choice, the orientation towards directly answering the essay question prompt, and of course quotations and reference lists. No one wants to be penalised by plagiarism. As long as you do proofread and make sure there is no issue about these aspects, you will gain a solid mark for sure.

Once again, I’m offering a special program with respect to essential academic skills including academic essays, oral presentations and reference systems. If you’re interested, please do not hesitate to contact me via email or leaving messages here.

Thanks for reading today.


Published by Masato Kawaguchi

I am an English entrepreneur here in Australia. I've been teaching the PTE exam for the last 2 years or so, now mainly general English online.

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