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'When it comes to essays make sure you have a plan'

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Student Nurse Editor, Natalie Moore, gets to grip with essay writing …

Even though nursing is a practical course, the main method of assessment is essays. This can be daunting for people who have never encountered academic writing before, but the key to doing well in essays is in planning ahead.

  1. Use a variety of sources and read widely around your essay subject. This increases your understanding of the subject and makes it easier to write a balanced argument on your topic. I find that using different types of research leads me to consider things that I hadn’t thought about when I first saw the essay question.
  2. Structure your essay and make a plan. An essay should have an introduction, body and conclusion. The introduction provides some background to the essay question and summarises what your essay will consist of. In the body, create an argument using your variety of sources and make sure it stays relevant to the essay question. This is where planning is crucial, so that the body of your essay flows and is coherent. The conclusion is where you highlight the points you have made and state what this means.
  3. Give yourself enough time. It’s very easy to tell when an essay has been rushed and put together at the last minute.  This is difficult to do when you are juggling placement, revision and your personal life but mentors are usually very understanding about this. If I have a quiet minute of placement I sit down and do a bit of work towards my essay. If you start in advance you will have more time to gather different sources and tweak bits of your essay once you have written it.
  4. Make sure you proofread your essay. Don’t let yourself lose out on marks because of spelling and grammar errors. Sometimes when you have been staring at an essay for too long it’s difficult to see where you may have made a mistake. I find it helpful to get somebody to read through mine and I proofread theirs in return.

Natalie Moore is the student nurse editor, mental health branch for studentnursingtimes.net.

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