Let us answer all the burning questions from the start. No, essay planning is not as simple as it may look like. No, it is not another wordy article with useless tips. Yes, we have included some examples to help you understand the whole process of essay planning. So, if “How do I write my essay” question is tearing you apart, we suggest you start with two easy steps: reading this article and planning.
In the best tradition of article writing, we have to begin the text with relevant questions to catch the readers’ attention. Here we go. Do you plan your essay? Is it effective? Why should we plan? Is it a waste of time? Whether you believe it or not, professors can usually tell if an essay has been planned or not. Because most of the time well-written essay is a well-planned one. Teachers are looking for three specific things in your writing: content, organization, and language.
This guidance is meant to walk you through a way to more efficient planning. The idea is if you can plan more precisely, your overall timing on that writing will speed up. In that way, you can focus on developing your language skills and not be rushed by the deadline as much. Remember, failing to plan is planning to fail. So, let’s plan your essay right now.
Essay Marking Criteria: Plan Your Paper and Get A+
We don’t want to argue with you whether students should spend 10% of their time on essay planning or not. We just offer you to take a close look at essay marking criteria, so you understand that in order to get a high score, you have to plan your writing. This is how almost every teacher rate your essay. (Scores are awarded on a scale from 1 to 5).
Score 1. An essay has some bearing on the question, but the arguments are incoherent and unfocused.
Score 2. The essay is arranged in a reasonably logical way with some elements of confusion in the argument.
Score 3. The candidate has answered to all aspects of the question in the essay, providing the readers with rational argument and counter-argument. The paper may have some weakness in the coherence of the ideas.
Score 4. Well-organized essay with strong evidence and a few weaknesses in grammar or punctuation. All the points are expressed and arranged in a coherent way. A student presented a balanced consideration of argument and counter-argument.
Score 5. No significant weaknesses in the organization of the essay. The thesis statement and argument are cogent. All the points of body paragraphs are written in a clear and logical way. The breadth of relevant ideas leads to a compelling conclusion.
So, as you see, it all comes down to well-organized essay with a logical and coherent presentation of all of the points.
Some students complain that they do not have enough time to plan. Actually, it is the opposite. It is because you have not planned your essay, you do not have enough time. However, if it is an exam, you do not want to take more than 8 minutes to plan your essay, or you will find yourself running out of time on that piece of writing.
Anyway, when you write without planning, you are writing and thinking at the same time (sorry for tautology). You include unnecessary info, then decide it is not relevant, cut it out and then write it all again. Does this sound familiar? You can avoid all of this mess by planning your essay well at the very beginning.
What Should You Do to Write a Good Essay Plan?
The first thing to do when you are planning your paper is to read the question, topic or the prompt carefully. Write out the essay question, so you can refer back to it when you are writing your body points later. You can't make an effective plan if you do not understand the question. A lot of times we skip over really important details or instructions.
Here is an example of the prompt or question: “The only thing you can always count on is that hearts change.” How has the director of “Howl's Moving Castle” used filming techniques to explore the idea that characters change?” The prompt tells you that you need to focus on filming techniques in your essay. Make sure you have a good understanding of things like camera angles, lighting, setting, costuming. The topic is also about characters. It is also plural, so you will need to discuss a few of them.
Make sure you answered every single part of the question. The second that you forget one of the elements of the question, you are going to be capped out 50% of the total marks immediately.
How to Plan Your Essay? Step-by-step Guide
Once you have analyzed the question, done research, and formed an overall idea of your essay, you can actually start planning your writing.
Step 1. The first part of any essay is an introduction. We suggest skipping over that until the end because you do not really know what you are introducing. The first paragraph of your writing does not require much thinking, it is rather the matter of stylish language. So, it is unnecessary to plan it.
Step 2. Write down the three main arguments or evidence on the topic or question asked. While you are planning, remember not to use any full sentences, just write the keywords.
Many students stop their planning after having just the first argument and start writing. And what tends to happen if you do that is you get one good chunk of evidence after the thesis statement. Then, you have to think what else to include, and you no longer thinking about putting forth your language skills but trying to come up with ideas for what to say.
Plan all your reasons and specific evidence before you write. This way you are not going to think about what to say. You can focus on saying it well.
Step 3. Jot down 2-3 bullet points on each paragraph (argument) and one counter-argument. Do not have a one-sided response to the question. Give both “for and against” opinions. Roughly speaking, your essay plan should look like this:
Evidence 1 – Support for evidence 1
Evidence 2 – Support for evidence 2
Objection – Rebuttal
Talking about the evidence, you can't just allude to something. You have to bring “the bloody glove of personal experience into the courtroom.” That is what evidence is.
Step 4. Come back to the introduction and create a catchy thesis statement. Write conclusion taking into consideration all of your main points.
So, here are critical requirements for your essay plan:
- look at both sides of the issue;
- be coherent;
- have appropriate paragraphing
- directly respond to the topic question.
If you check off a box next to each of these points, no doubts, you will get A+ for a well-planned essay.