How to Write an Academic Essay: 7 Steps to Success

Writing an academic essay can be intimidating, especially when you aren’t sure of where to start. Your instructor may have given you several prompts to choose from or you may have been given the freedom to select your own topic, but you still aren’t going to get very far until you settle down and start from the top.

Here are 7 steps to success when it comes to writing an academic essay:

  1. Make the time to write your essay.

    Plan your writing. This includes setting aside the time to brainstorm, develop ideas, create an outline, write a couple of drafts of your essay and proofread. Your plan will be your guide and sticking to the time schedule you’ve created will help you manage your time much better.

  2. Choose the best question to answer.

    If you’ve been given essay prompts then choose a question that interests you or one that you already know a few things about. If you get to choose your own topic, then think about some class readings or subjects you’ve enjoyed the most. Writing will come easier when you’re not bogged down by a boring subject you know little about.

  3. Brainstorm a bit, come up with ideas.

    Take some time to explore your ideas. What questions do you have about the subject? Are there certain aspects that you didn’t understand? Can you envision an alternate view of the subject? Think creatively and put your best ideas on a list. Further develop these ideas by asking even more questions and writing notes.

  4. Choose your topic to write about.

    Now that you have narrowed your ideas, you are ready to select a single topic to research and write about. Depending on the length of your essay you may only need to reread a few sources assigned in class or you may have to go to your library to find more information. Whatever the situation, you now have a specific topic to guide your research.

  5. Create an outline and write the first draft.

    Most writers – especially essay writers – will tell you that writing a draft is an essential step in the entire process. It absolutely is! A well-though essay will organize your ideas and bring logic to your argument. Be sure to list all of your major points in support of your thesis and use the entire draft as a guide for your first draft.

  6. Revise and edit your draft.

    Never turn in your first draft. It will be filled with grammar mistakes, illogical arguments, transitions and a slew of problems that will negatively affect your grade. Writing isn’t a one-time event. Great writing needs to be preceded by a draft, a revision, and a final edit at the least. Give yourself plenty of time for this.

  7. Set your essay aside then proofread.

    After your revision you should set your essay aside for a day or two so that you can return to it and proofread with a fresh set of eyes. Chances are you will be making very few corrections, but these small errors could mean the difference between a stellar grade and a passing grade.