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Making a plan before you start writing will help you deliver a better essay and avoid a last minute panic.

elephant button 4 Use a planning method that suits you – diary, wall planner, electronic.
elephant button 4 Set out the goals for your essay alongside all your other social, academic and family activities.
elephant button 4 Create a timeline for your essay working back from your deadline, having identified your other commitments.
Remember... the importance of careful planning

Work stage

Tasks to undertake

Exploring the question Think about what the question is asking you to do. Jot down your ideas and identify what you already know, and what you will need to find out. Sketch out an initial essay plan.
Research Using reliable books, journals and other sources, assemble the information you require, making notes of key points or evidence as you go along.

Note down references accurately as you do your research. This will save you time.

Writing Refine your essay plan, setting out the key arguments you will make in your essay. Complete a rough first draft of your essay: introduction, main body, conclusion.

Redraft, improving the structure and content until you are happy with it.

Editing & Proof-reading Leave enough time to revise and proof-read your writing and check your referencing before submitting your essay.

Useful strategies

Start your essay as soon as possible.

Build some flexibility into your plan in case of unforeseen circumstances.

Be realistic about what you can achieve in any given time: recognise your strengths and weaknesses.

Breaking things down into smaller tasks can make them easier to tackle and give you a sense of achievement.

Compile a ‘to do’ list of tasks.

Don’t procrastinate – start with something easy or small.

Guidance on all these academic writing skills is available on this website – just ‘ask the elephant’.

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