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Transkills: supporting transition to University


A well written essay is …


Be sure to answer the question that is asked completely, that is, answer all parts of the question. Avoid “padding.” A lot of rambling and ranting is a sure sign that the writer doesn't really know what the right answer is and hopes that somehow, something in that overgrown jungle of words was the correct answer.


Don't write a haphazard travelogue in a “think-as-you-go” manner. The reader is not going to play detective and unravel clues as to what you might know. Do some planning and be sure that what you write has a clearly marked introduction which both states the point(s) you are going to make and also, if possible, how you are going to proceed. In addition, the essay should have a clearly indicated conclusion, which summarises the material covered and emphasises your thesis or main point.


Do not just assert that something is true, prove it! What facts, figures, examples, case studies, tests, etc. prove or support your point? You may be intelligent, loveable, etc., but no one is going to believe all your statements just because you say they are true. In many cases, the difference between a top and an average mark is due to the effective use of supporting evidence.

Here is a set of guidelines that may prove helpful:

  1. Read through the question carefully.
  2. Underline the key word(s) which tell you what to focus on for the question.
  3. Choose an organisational pattern appropriate for each key word and plan your essay on rough paper.
  4. Begin your essay with a one or two sentence thesis which summarises your argument. If possible, phrase the statement so that it rephrases the question's essential terms into a statement (which therefore directly answers the essay question).
  5. Support your thesis with specific references to the material you have read.
  6. Proof read your answer and correct errors in spelling and structure.


Essay components: the introduction

Essay components: the main body

Essay components: the conclusion