Before you start writing your essay, it is important that you plan it. Below is an example of what an essay plan should look like (including explanations and tips), and how much detail it should contain. You can use this as a guide for your essay plans.
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Essay Question: Was the Russian Revolution a genuine revolution or was it a coup?
Word Limit: 2,000 words
Introduction (10% of word limit): 200 words
Introductions should never be longer than 500 words, so this 10% guide only applies to essays shorter than 5,000 words.
To be considered an Introduction, an Introduction must do two things:
Answer the question – It was a genuine revolution.
This must be done first. An Introduction must answer the question. This is how you put forward a strong argument.
List the evidence your essay will put forward to prove your answer – This can be seen through an examination of the sections of society which supported the revolution. workers, peasants, soldiers, national minorities. Any major topic or subject that you plan to discuss in your essay must be introduced in the Introduction.
Body of the Essay: 400 words each
How long you spend writing about each subject should reflect the importance of each subject. If all four topics are of equal importance, write roughly the same amount of words on each. If a topic is more important, write about it first and write more words on it. If a topic is less important, write about it last and write fewer words on it.
Topic 1: workers
Topic 2: peasants
Topic 3: soldiers
Topic 4: national minorities
Conclusion (10% of word limit): 200 words
Conclusions should never be longer than 500 words, so this 10% guide only applies to essays shorter than 5,000 words.
To be considered a Conclusion, a Conclusion must do two things:
Answer the essay question again (using different words than in the Introduction, don’t repeat yourself exactly) – It was a genuine revolution.
Recap (repeat, summaries) all the evidence you have given to prove your answer during your essay– workers, peasants, soldiers, national minorities
A conclusion must not contain any new information, you are only summarising what you have already written.
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- Have you ever borrowed some books to start your research and realised you did not know where to begin?
- Have you ever spent time reading a great deal of information that in the end was irrelevant to the essay or assignment you were working on?
- Have you ever started to write your essay and realised you had too much information on one topic, and not enough information on another topic?
If you write the first draft of your essay plan before you begin your research, you will be organised and prepared, and you will save time.
You must write the first draft of your essay plan before you start your research. This will give your research direction and ultimately make it easier for you to write your essay. Having a plan will let you know what you need to research and how much research you need on each topic or subject that you will be writing about.
You will base this first draft of your essay plan on your essay question, and your current knowledge of your subject. You will not often be asked to write an essay on a topic you know nothing about, since you will already be studying the subject and will normally have had one or more lectures or tutorials on the topic.
It is acceptable if your essay plan is rough or vague at this point, or if you do not have a great deal of detail. You will develop your essay plan (expanding it and including more detail) and possibly even change it as you go through the research process.
What does a first draft of an essay plan look like?
The first draft of your essay plan will show you what main topics you will discuss in your essay, how the essay will be structured, and roughly how many words you will spend on each part.
If your essay question was 'Is Critical Thinking relevant to the role of a Registered Nurse?' and you had to write 1,500 words, then your essay plan might look like this:
(Please note that this sample essay plan is intended only to serve as a guide for how to develop and write an essay plan, and should not be used as an essay plan by students writing an essay on this topic.)
Introductions and conclusions
As you can see from the example essay plan above, an introduction and a conclusion will normally be approximately ten per cent of the word count of the entire essay. (This is a general guide and does not apply to essays longer than 5,000 words).
In order to be considered a true introduction, your first paragraph must do two things:
- Answer the essay question in a clear statement (this is called your thesis statement)
- Introduce the main points your essay will make to support your argument
Essay question: 'Is Critical Thinking relevant to the role of a Registered Nurse?'
Essay length: 1,500 words
Introduction (150 words)
- Thesis statement: Through an examination of the evidence, it is clear that Critical Thinking is highly relevant to the role of a Registered Nurse for a number of reasons.
- Introduce main points or topics to be discussed: accuracy of diagnoses, patient outcomes, prevent and solve problems, communication
Topic 1: Accuracy of diagnoses (300 words)
Topic 2: Patient outcomes (300 words)
Topic 3: Prevent and solve problems (300 words)
Topic 4: Communication (300 words)
Conclusion (150 words)
- Concluding statement: Thus, it can be seen that the concept of Critical Thinking is invaluable and highly relevant to Registered Nurses.
- Sum up main points or topics that have been discussed: accuracy of diagnoses, patient outcomes, prevent and solve problems, communication
You cannot discuss any major points or topics in your essay if you have not introduced them in your introduction. In addition, you must discuss all your main points or topics in the order that you introduce them in your introduction. This helps to maintain the flow and structure of your essay.
Similarly, in order to be considered a true conclusion, your last paragraph must do two things:
- Restate the answer to the essay question (i.e. restate your thesis statement)
- Sum up the main points your essay has made to support your argument
Remember, a conclusion cannot contain any new information.
Body of the essay and topic sentences
You can find out how many words you will write in the body of your essay by taking away the number you will spend on your introduction and conclusion from the total amount. How you divide the number of words in the body of your essay between your main topics will depend on how important each topic is to your argument. How long you spend writing about each topic should reflect the importance of each topic. If all of your topics were of equal importance, you would write roughly the same amount of words on each. If one topic were more important, you would write about it first and spend longer discussing it. If one topic were less important, you would write about it last and write fewer words on it.
Using topic sentences at the beginning of each new paragraph is essential to ensure that your essay is well organised and well structured. It also ensures that the essay flows logically and reads well. (This is something that your essay editor can check for you when you submit your document for editing.) A topic sentence must do two things:
- Introduce the new topic about to be discussed
- Show how this new topic helps to answer the essay question or support your argument in answering the essay question
If your essay question were 'Is Critical Thinking relevant to the role of a Registered Nurse?' and you were about to discuss the topic 'accuracy of diagnoses', then your topic sentence might sound like this: 'Another way in which Critical Thinking is highly relevant to the role of a Registered Nurse is in ensuring accuracy of diagnoses'. This sentence clearly demonstrates to the reader that you are about to discuss 'accuracy of diagnoses' and you are doing so because it is another way that Critical Thinking is relevant to Registered Nurses, which is what your essay is arguing.
The information in this article is relevant to the second step of writing an academic essay. However, there are five other steps. Please ensure you read all of the articles in the series How to Write Distinction Essays Every Time. When you have completed following the steps and have written your essay, remember to submit it to one of our academic editors for professional editing. Academic essay editing and proofreading helps students to improve their grades.
Other parts in this series;
Step 1: Analyse the Question
Step 2: Draft the Essay Plan
Step 3: Conduct the Research
Step 4: Finalise the Essay Plan
Step 5: Write the First Draft of the Essay
Step 6: Professional Academic Editing
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