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Transkills: supporting transition to University


When you have finished reading for a particular essay topic, read through all the notes you have made a couple of times. Then begin to think about how you are going to tackle the questions set. If the answer seems to be a choice between two opposites, remember to put both sides of the answer forward. Begin by putting down a few key pointers to sections and sort them out into a logical order. This is a difficult and time-consuming stage – most students don't put enough time into it and as such will fail to notice the relevance of some aspects of what they have read. Try then to ascribe points in your notes to these sections, and then structure within each section using the relevant points. Finally, write the essay. Above all, remember that writing good and well-structured essays now will make life much easier in the not too distant future when you begin to revise for Tripos exams. Such essays contain your notes and your ideas in a structured form and will be extremely easy from which to revise.

Remember that an essay is not just a collection of notes. Nor is it a report. Each word and sentence and paragraph is a building block for your ideas – make sure that each element of what you write serves the overall purpose of the essay.

Above all, remember that an essay is an argument: a structured, informed, opinion. It’s not just an opinion – this has to be backed up by academic analysis and information; and it needs to be presented in a structured manner.