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Tips for writing an essay

Term assessments are a key component in higher education in the UK. An assessment usually consists of several patterns including presentation, group work, essays and exams etc. Whilst native students are accustomed to them, international students, especially non-European students may struggle over this period of study. Among all the assessment types, essays are often regarded as the most difficult.

What should you bear in mind when you are preparing for an essay?

Here are some helpful tips for writing an essay:



Literature review

Step one is to conduct a literature review. Though sometimes it is not required as a key part in the essay, you should always search literature to know the current research status and prospect. Familiarise yourself with previous studies, this can not only help you identify your own topic, but will also provide a firm ground for your essay.


Critical thinking

critical thinking

Critical thinking is a fundamental skill required for every student in a UK university. It is a complicated concept but in general, you should be an active reader when you are reading or writing. Do not just accept others’ opinions passively- propose reasonable query.

The core is argument—developing your own idea, convincing your readers with references and drawing a conclusion.


Attention to format

essay format

Format is a must for a well-written essay. A standard format is an indicator for marking, as well as a good presentation of written work. Additional attention should be paid to references/bibliographies. Requirements may vary according to courses. Some universities use a Harvard system, whilst others’ prefer APA.

You must be careful with the essay requirements and ensure its consistency.


Seeking professional help from university

writing centre

Most universities in the UK are aware of the increasing number of international students. They will have language centre that is there specifically to help these non-English speaking students. Apart from these language centres, there are also writing centres which offer help with academic writing.

Freshers are expected to seek help from the writing centres whenever they encounter obstacles in essay writing.



Plagiarism is always paramount when you are writing an essay. It is never allowed to plagiarise others’ work for your own purpose. Sometimes students cannot distinguish plagiarism from referencing, this has resulted in many universities having special courses dedicated to plagiarism and some even ask for mandatory attendance.

Freshers are highly recommended to take such courses.



As there is usually a relatively long period before the deadline, students inevitably prefer to relax when term ends. However, it is certainly not a good habit and many students cannot finish their essays until the last minute. With poor time management, some fail to submit them in on time.

Try not to procrastinate and do your work first, there’s plenty of time afterwards to wind down!

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