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Transkills: supporting transition to University


At university, it is most common for your supervisors to assess the product of your learning (the finished essay), rather than the stages of the process by which you produced it. The quality of the resulting essay is of course determined by the degree to which a student successfully manages each of the tasks involved, from interpreting the essay title to editing the final draft, but this may only be indirectly evident to your supervisor, who may not be able to give you targeted feedback without detailed discussion.

The process of writing an essay is often presented as a straightforward progression of certain sequential steps, in a particular order. You may have recognised from your own experience that it is in fact far more complex than this, that this model may be misleading and even unhelpful. There is not necessarily a set order in which tasks must be done, and many routes through the stages, depending on a student's preferences and working habits. The process is frequently iterative, as previous stages are revisited with greater focus or understanding.

You may sometimes feel that the amount of effort you put in does not correlate to the quality of the final essay. Sometimes work produced in a panic at the last minute can be excellent, whereas essays that have been worked on for days do not turn out as well as expected. You may wonder if there are any areas where you can work more efficiently and with less stress, or be more in control of whatever it is that you are unknowingly doing well. This resource aims to help you reflect on your current study preferences and habits, outline the tasks that need doing to produce an essay, and offer strategies and tools that can be integrated into your own working habits, to help you achieve them more efficiently and take more control over the process. It will also suggest some strategies to help deal with the pitfalls commonly encountered by students.