As the government begins its crackdown on essay mill websites, it’s easy to see just how much pressure students are under to get top grades for their coursework these days. But writing a high-scoring paper doesn’t need to be complicated. We spoke to experts to get some simple techniques that will raise your writing game.
Tim Squirrell is a PhD student at the University of Edinburgh, and is teaching for the first time this year. When he was asked to deliver sessions on the art of essay-writing, he decided to publish a comprehensive (and brilliant) blog on the topic, offering wisdom gleaned from turning out two or three essays a week for his own undergraduate degree.
“There is a knack to it,” he says. “It took me until my second or third year at Cambridge to work it out. No one tells you how to put together an argument and push yourself from a 60 to a 70, but once you to get grips with how you’re meant to construct them, it’s simple.”
'I felt guilty when I got my results': your stories of buying essays | Guardian readers and Sarah Marsh
The goal of writing any essay is to show that you can think critically about the material at hand (whatever it may be). This means going beyond regurgitating what you’ve read; if you’re just repeating other people’s arguments, you’re never going to trouble the upper end of the marking scale.
“You need to be using your higher cognitive abilities,” says Bryan Greetham, author of the bestselling How to Write Better Essays. “You’re not just showing understanding and recall, but analysing and synthesising ideas from different sources, then critically evaluating them. That’s where the marks lie.”
But what does critical evaluation actually look like? According to Squirrell, it’s simple: you need to “poke holes” in the texts you’re exploring and work out the ways in which “the authors aren’t perfect”.
“That can be an intimidating idea,” he says. “You’re reading something that someone has probably spent their career studying, so how can you, as an undergraduate, critique it?
“The answer is that you’re not going to discover some gaping flaw in Foucault’s History of Sexuality Volume 3, but you are going to be able to say: ‘There are issues with these certain accounts, here is how you might resolve those’. That’s the difference between a 60-something essay and a 70-something essay.”
Critique your own arguments
Once you’ve cast a critical eye over the texts, you should turn it back on your own arguments. This may feel like going against the grain of what you’ve learned about writing academic essays, but it’s the key to drawing out developed points.
“We’re taught at an early age to present both sides of the argument,” Squirrell continues. “Then you get to university and you’re told to present one side of the argument and sustain it throughout the piece. But that’s not quite it: you need to figure out what the strongest objections to your own argument would be. Write them and try to respond to them, so you become aware of flaws in your reasoning. Every argument has its limits and if you can try and explore those, the markers will often reward that.”
Applying to university? It's time to narrow your choices down to two
Fine, use Wikipedia then
The use of Wikipedia for research is a controversial topic among academics, with many advising their students to stay away from the site altogether.
“I genuinely disagree,” says Squirrell. “Those on the other side say that you can’t know who has written it, what they had in mind, what their biases are. But if you’re just trying to get a handle on a subject, or you want to find a scattering of secondary sources, it can be quite useful. I would only recommend it as either a primer or a last resort, but it does have its place.”
Focus your reading
Reading lists can be a hindrance as well as a help. They should be your first port of call for guidance, but they aren’t to-do lists. A book may be listed, but that doesn’t mean you need to absorb the whole thing.
Squirrell advises reading the introduction and conclusion and a relevant chapter but no more. “Otherwise you won’t actually get anything out of it because you’re trying to plough your way through a 300-page monograph,” he says.
You also need to store the information you’re gathering in a helpful, systematic way. Bryan Greetham recommends a digital update of his old-school “project box” approach.
“I have a box to catch all of those small things – a figure, a quotation, something interesting someone says – I’ll write them down and put them in the box so I don’t lose them. Then when I come to write, I have all of my material.”
There are a plenty of online offerings to help with this, such as the project management app Scrivener and referencing tool Zotero, and, for the procrastinators, there are productivity programmes like Self Control, which allow users to block certain websites from their computers for a set period.
Essays for sale: the booming online industry in writing academic work to order
Look beyond the reading list
“This is comparatively easy to do,” says Squirrell. “Look at the citations used in the text, put them in Google Scholar, read the abstracts and decide whether they’re worth reading. Then you can look on Google Scholar at other papers that have cited the work you’re writing about – some of those will be useful. But quality matters more than quantity.”
And finally, the introduction
The old trick of dealing with your introduction last is common knowledge, but it seems few have really mastered the art of writing an effective opener.
“Introductions are the easiest things in the world to get right and nobody does it properly,” Squirrel says. “It should be ‘Here is the argument I am going to make, I am going to substantiate this with three or four strands of argumentation, drawing upon these theorists, who say these things, and I will conclude with some thoughts on this area and how it might clarify our understanding of this phenomenon.’ You should be able to encapsulate it in 100 words or so. That’s literally it.”
Keep up with the latest on Guardian Students: follow us on Twitter at @GdnStudents – and become a member to receive exclusive benefits and our weekly newsletter.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it legal to use your essay writing service?
Yes. Custom writing help is not prohibited by any university or college. It’s a 100% legal way of getting professional assistance with paper writing. Hiring writers from an essay writing company is in many ways similar to consulting a tutor – we help you solve writing issues at hand. How to legally use an academic paper you can read here.
How can I be sure your writing service is not a scam?
We understand that a shade of mistrust has covered the paper writing industry, and we want to convince you of our loyalty. Apart from high-quality services, we offer:
- The chances of students to boost writing skills in a quick and effective way.
- The opportunity to manage studies and free time in an enjoyable manner.
- The possibilities to improve overall academic performance.
Our custom writing company has been working for more than 12 years and always puts quality and clients’ needs first. Our operations are legally documented, we are easily accessible online and offline, and you can always contact us if you have any questions.
Where is your company located?
CustomWritings.com is a London-incorporated academic assistance company One Freelance Limited with the official address 37 Warren Street, London, United Kingdom W1T 6AD. However, our support teams are located in Ukraine and Latvia, and our academic writers can be found worldwide. If you wish to get in touch with us, call free at 1-855-655-4828.
I need an essay on the same day. Is it something you can do?
Sure. Our writing company offers a fast service with an 8-hour deadline for orders up to master’s level. Make sure to specify the deadline in the order form and our writers will write a paper within the indicated timeslot. Just proceed to submit your requirements here.
Who will work on my paper sample?
Once you order an essay sample, our managers will assign your order to the most well-suited writer, who has the best skills and experience for preparing your specific assignment. You can also request one of these extra features:
- Choose the Samples option – study 3 randomly-provided pages from orders that have been written by the assigned writer.
- Request a specific writer – choose a writer from the dropdown list in the order’s form (optional for returning customers).
You can be sure that your custom writing order will be accomplished by one of our 400+ professional academic writers. They all pass a series of tests to prove their writing prowess and hold the reputation of being the most professional in the industry.
What if I’m dissatisfied with the paper I get?
The average quality score at our professional essay writing service is 8.5 out of 10. The high satisfaction rate is set by our Quality Control Department, which checks all papers before submission. The final check includes:
- Compliance with initial order details.
- Proper referencing.
If for some reason we happen to leave a mistake unnoticed, you are invited to request unlimited revisions of your custom-written paper. For more information, check our Revision Policy.
We will do our best to make your experience with CustomWritings.com enjoyable.
Read full FAQ →
There are strong reasons why your cooperation with our Custom Writing Service cannot be regarded as cheating.
When turning to custom writing services for help, it is important to ask yourself whether what you are doing is ethical. Our answer is: "It all depends on the company you are using". With CustomWritings.com, you pay for efficient academic assistance and receive legal service for your money. It is just as if you were getting help from a third party to fix your computer, or pay a tutor to improve your writing skills. It is absolutely ethical and cannot be regarded as cheating to get academic assistance from CustomWritings.com, as long as you use the model paper as a template for your own writing and properly cite the original.
Most students turn to us when they have difficulty trying to complete a certain challenging academic task, whether it's writing a research paper, an essay on a specific topic, a term paper, a book report or some other task. So, if this is the case with you as well, and you want to get a high grade but need help with understanding the task and arranging the content for your paper, it is only reasonable to ask for help from qualified personnel in the sphere of academic writing. Our experts will provide you with a plagiarism-free paper in accordance with the instructions you submit, and this will serve as a perfect guide for your own work.
We would like to put specific emphasis on the fact that the content you receive from CustomWritings.com is completely original, and has been written exclusively for your specific needs and requirements. It is a product you have not stolen from anyone but have purchased for a fair price, just like you would buy a meal at a restaurant that was custom-cooked for you and you only. The paper you receive will NEVER be used again or submitted to anybody else. With this firm guarantee in your hands, you have every reason to regard using our service as absolutely safe and secure.
There can be various obstacles that make it impossible for you to cope with an assignment on your own. You could have been sick and missed the class when the task was explained in detail, or you urgently have to work and simply don't have enough time to dedicate to writing. When you do not want these obstacles to influence the quality of your work, you need to get assistance from a service you can trust.
CustomWritings.com website is your a reliable partner for writing custom papers and getting them done before the deadline. We entered the custom essay writing industry as a custom essay writing service over seven years ago and, since then we have been strongly committed to delivering only high quality custom written essays, term papers, research papers and other written assignments, to satisfy all the customers who buy custom papers from our website.