An essay assignment can sometimes be the bane of your student existence. It takes some amount of time for planning and research and writing may not be your strong point. But you can get through the whole assignment as painlessly as possible by following some simple steps that apply to most writing coursework.
- Choose a topic and formulate it in a sentence. More often than not you'll only be asked to choose from a set of topics. Pick one that really arouses your interest. It will make the researching and writing easier and enjoyable. With your topic in hand, ask yourself what about the topic you specifically want to elaborate. This will narrow down the focus and help you formulate it in a single sentence.
- Visualize and map out your ideas. Now that you know what you have to write about, it's time to decide on how you will elucidate your topic. Chop it down to smaller points such as background, function, importance, etc. To get a clearer picture of how you can go from one subtopic to another, you can arrange them into a flowchart beginning with your topic and expanding to your subtopics. This way you'll be forced to think of how the supporting ideas connect to each other and to your main idea.
- Research and fill in the facts. The flowchart you made serves as the outline for your whole essay and can be used to guide your research as well. Pick out your references based on this outline and choose only the facts that are directly connected to your subtopics. To aid you later on when you actually start writing the essay, organize your notes according to your outline.
- Start writing. A good approach would be to first simply rewrite your notes into complete sentences and arrange them according to your outline. Afterwards you can make a second pass and start polishing them one paragraph at a time. The tone you'll use will depend on whether it's a formal or informal essay. If the topic is under a specific field of study such as biology or literature make sure you use the appropriate technical terms or jargon.
An essay assignment is only a burden if you think of it as one. A better attitude to take is to think of it as an opportunity to learn something new on your own. Organizing ideas and writing them down are skills you'll eventually fall back on in your other scholarly endeavors.