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June 15, 2024, 08:38:50 pm

Author Topic: I have a problem when it comes to writing essays...  (Read 7371 times)  Share 

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Hure

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I have a problem when it comes to writing essays...
« on: May 15, 2011, 03:42:03 pm »
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So I do Australian History, but I think that this is probably something that could relate across all history subjects so hopefully you can help me!
The problem is, when I write an essay, it's like it's never going to end. I recently had an important essay to hand in, the recommended word length was 1000-1500 words. I wrote 3500 (don't worry I checked to make sure that this wouldn't be penalised). It takes up a lot of my time which obviously it doesn't and shouldn't need to, but I just don't know how to stop it! Did/does anyone have this problem? Any advice as to how to fix it?

brightsky

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Re: I have a problem when it comes to writing essays...
« Reply #1 on: May 15, 2011, 03:49:10 pm »
+1
Plan your essay beforehand and make it quite detailed. Make sure you know exactly what you are going to write in every paragraph before you start, and stick to this plan when you are writing. (This should take care of the time problem, so long as you don't get too pedantic about your sentence structure/wording etc.) Especially for subjects like history, do not surf the net whilst doing your essay, or you'll be bound to exceed the word limit. Do all the research before you start writing. If this doesn't work, then try gathering all the information you possibly can regarding the specific topic and select the best and most relevant data to write about.
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Aurelian

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Re: I have a problem when it comes to writing essays...
« Reply #2 on: May 15, 2011, 03:56:42 pm »
+1
I was (and still am) particularly prone to vastly exceeding word limits. Really, the most important thing to remember is simply that you do not need to cover every single thing relating to the topic - nobody is ever going to expect that you cover 3500 words worth of content in 1500 words. It's 1500 words for a reason after all.

As such, it is important that you learn to allow yourself to forgo material. If you're presented with an evidently broad topic, pick out a certain finite number of key points to address in detail. If you can think of more that are equally important, but would move you beyond the word limit, you really do just have to accept that you can't cover them. The only person it's going to bother is you, not the marker. If you're anything like me, the main issue is that you feel that you haven't done the topic justice unless you cover absolutely everything. But, as long as you yourself recognise there's more that could be said, you don't need to actually write it down to secure this peace of mind.

Other than that, succinctness of prose style cannot be underestimated; master the ability to say something with profound meaning but without using excessive words. Often a good 10% of an essay can always be cut out in this fashion.
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chrisjb

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Re: I have a problem when it comes to writing essays...
« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2011, 06:13:23 pm »
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I have this problem too. In sacs and exams I am always like 'okay, I have 20 valid points that I CAN talk about, but which ones SHOULD I talk about?' then I narrow narrow narrow it down until I have like 4 different points. I always feel bad at the end cos I know that I could have talked about so much more and shown how much I really do know, except I get forced to cut down my essay.

That is one reason I hate broad essay questions in my humanities subjects. I would much rather be asked something quite specific and go into great detail and depth about it than try to cover a broad topic within a limited essay.
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Interficere

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Re: I have a problem when it comes to writing essays...
« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2011, 07:38:59 pm »
+2
I have this problem too - and what's worse is that in Revs, you'll get one 10-mark question that's a page long, and it asks you to discuss events that occurred in the space of a year - very, very, very broad question to write about in one page/15 minutes. What I do for essays is plan EXACTLY what I'll write in each paragraph, and then also write down how many words it'll take me to talk about that. Check your word limit after each paragraph - it's probably easier to cut down, paragraph by paragraph, than to look at a completed essay that's 1000 words over the limit and think 'well, what the hell do I do now?'

Part of the reason my history responses were so long at first was because I had a bad habit of 'telling the story.' Assume the reader is at least a little familiar with the narrative, and don't waste all your words on describing the events - instead concentrate on the argument you're trying to make. Instead of talking about what exactly happened during a particular event, discuss the significance of that event - that sort of thing. I used to write a whole paragraph about what occurred, and then another whole paragraph about the effects of that occurrence, but lately I've just concentrated on the significance of the event rather than the details of the event itself.

Also, don't be too concerned about including everything that you've learnt. I always like to cram my essays full of stuff, in an attempt to demonstrate that I've remembered absolutely everything that has ever been mentioned in class, but it's better to choose a few key points and discuss them in detail.
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Eriny

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Re: I have a problem when it comes to writing essays...
« Reply #5 on: August 18, 2011, 09:23:43 pm »
+1
I am also a word-limit exceeder. I think the best way to deal with it is clear thinking and planning. Figure out what you want to say before you start writing so that you don't repeat yourself and you can be as brief as possible. If a topic seems too big, focus on a specific area of it in detail rather than the whole thing.

kellieamelia

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Re: I have a problem when it comes to writing essays...
« Reply #6 on: October 09, 2011, 06:06:25 pm »
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SamiJ

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Re: I have a problem when it comes to writing essays...
« Reply #7 on: October 09, 2011, 06:36:39 pm »
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I'd be excited if I exceeded a word limit! I have the opposite problem, I never right enough. Sigh... :-\
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simon_93

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Re: I have a problem when it comes to writing essays...
« Reply #8 on: October 09, 2011, 06:48:54 pm »
+1
Seconded!

Personally, the problem I have is with articulating myself effectively, as opposed to not having enough ideas.
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schnappy

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Re: I have a problem when it comes to writing essays...
« Reply #9 on: January 15, 2012, 12:55:33 am »
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Other than saying TEEL I can't help, but you better sort your problem out if you intend to do an essayey type course at uni - the people who assess you are more than entitled to stop reading at the word limit then mark you.

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Re: I have a problem when it comes to writing essays...
« Reply #10 on: January 19, 2012, 08:34:00 am »
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Follow the TEEM structure, but before you write an essay, plan it out. Dot point your ideas for each body paragraph, and draw arrows to them in which you would expand.

EG: DOGS ARE BETTER THAN CATS:disagree
cats are cleaner and less maintenance
-> benefits the householder (not too much money spent on the cat)
-> easier to look after


I do this for every essay I write. Sometimes it takes me close to 1.5 housr to write up a detailed plan, with quotes streamed in with ideas, and then only 30 mins to write it. If you have a problem with word limits, DONT WRITE ESSAYS ON YOUR COMPUTER. I used to do this and ALWAYS went over. Now I handwrite, and only write clearly and methodically as I dont feel the need to ramble or talk about something completely contrasting for the topic. Handwrite it and limit yourself to 3-4 pages max. It works for me, it could for you:)

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