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How to Plan an Essay for Students’ Academic Development

18 Jul 2017

Stephen Covey writes in his "7 Habits of highly effective people” that every deed starts twice. Originally – in your head, and then - with a plan on paper. This thought could not be more exact when it comes to the essay writing skills. Just like with any project, no matter how small or big, it is effective to start your work clearly understanding the final aim and steps that lead to this goal.

Only Boredoms do planning

One can reasonably argue that planning takes time and particularly a lot of time. Why not to simply start the essay writing, switching from chapter to chapter as it appears in the head? An essay plan is for those, dotting the i’s.

Consider the below reasons why essay planning is essential for your successful score.

  • It sets your priorities. Having a plan of your work is like having a map in an unknown city. May sound obvious, however very precise.  You need a plan to understand what you should be working on and on what to work top of the list.
  • It simplifies decision making. When you have a plan and realize your priorities, it is easier to focus on the most substantial information and to cut the excess. The essay must have a given volume. You can not allow yourself to be indistinct or to spill the letters, proving your idea, due to a word limit.
  • It shows progression. The plan helps to measure how much work has already been done and how much is left. Knowing how far you are from your destination helps you to manage your energy efficiently.
  • It is your time management tool. Not to sound obvious again, having a plan saves your time. A famous 80/20 rule tells us that when acting without an essay structure, 80 percent of the effort give less than 20 percent of the result. Lots of time and energy is consumed by taking the unfocused steps or deciding what to do. 

Where the beginning to begin is?

After you have created a new text document, the next reasonable step would be to have a look at the already available information.  

  • Have a look at the task. What type of essay do you have to write? The answer will show a basic structure of your paper. For example, academic essays usually require a strict organization of statement; historical works may mean chronology, etc. Read an assignment carefully and make sure to set a communication with your instructor to ask the informed questions.
  • Draft your thesis statement. This is a one or two sentence statement that sums up the core idea of your essay. It is then proved and developed or explained in details in the main text of the paper. The subject matter of the thesis will become a center point of each paragraph of your essay.
  • Put your ideas on paper. Keeping your thesis statement in front of your eyes, body the essay, think about the general structure of it. What things would you like to discuss or highlight? Write them down.
  • Name your ideas. Give each idea or point of view a title or the main sentence. With a continuation of work on your essay, it will help to organize your material in a logical order and to have a better focus on the idea. 
  • Decide the order. How will you organize your material and start writing? Say, chronologically, if you write about history or from most important or problematic to least, in case of a comparison? What shall be a part of your introduction, plot and ending?
  • Extract and combine. Do the primary shaping and make your points balanced to the chosen way of telling.
  • You will need a conclusion. To what result do you suppose to come? Sum up the points, statements or decisions of your essay. 
  • Revise your plan during the work. It is a good idea to revise your plan during the work. As you research new information, lots of fresh ideas may come to your head. Sometimes this new information may contradict with some ideas that you’ve initially brainstormed. This is particularly the case for the academic essays. Strike out the obsolete items or add your plan with more points, supporting your main topic.

Cherry on a tart

And now a couple of life hacks on the main point.

  • Use the mind map. It is a powerful tool to visualize your ideas while planning.
  • To decide whether the information you would like to provide really supports your idea, ask yourself: “So what?” Answer the essay, and it will show the importance or insignificance of the statement.

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