Time Saving Tips: University Essays and Coursework

I have wrote a lot of essays in my time: College, University, PGCE and Masters. All in all, I have probably spent a large chunk of my life redrafting my own work a few thousand times to make it better. These are my top ten tips that I wish I had known at the start of my essay writing journey.

Trusty Tool Number One: Planning

Write a rough plan or guide for the different sections of your essay. This will help you maintain control over your writing and to avoid tangents and irrelevant material. When creating a design plan for your essay do not just stick to the lecture notes or tutorial content. Independent study is imperative.

Trusty Tool Number Two: Pick your sources carefully

Only reference books and journals, treat online articles ( even BBC news articles) as a rare treat. This is because they are hard to source and may still be based on unreliable or biased views. Also if you find your own sources it is worth checking with your seminar leader that they are appropriate. What might be a good article might be considered not quite reputable enough, especially if you base a significant part of your argument on it.  It is also important to note not to use too many sources or else you are just seen to be copying others’ work. Try include a good balance of primary and secondary sources.

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The Reality of University

Going to university can be some of the best or longest years of your life so far. I have experienced both types of uni life. I have attended three universities: Undergrad, PGCE and Masters. I have been a commuting, residential and long distance student. And I have seen the good, the bad and the mouldy (kitchens and bathrooms!)  So here are a few things I wish I’d have known before starting university:

Note: If you are living in the ‘Uni bubble of hopes and dreams’ please stop reading now…

Before your course starts:

  • Over your summer holidays you will probably receive a reading list of required books. If you buy every book on the list you will be in thousands of dept before you even start. I found that there are only 2-3 books that are referred to throughout the unit, which are necessary to reference in your essays/ work. So:

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Writing the perfect UCAS application

I have been helping my students with their personal statements for many years, ranging from Philosophy and English joint honours courses, to History, Medicine and even Computer Science degrees. Whilst I may not teach all of these areas my advice works for all applications. I have also written three personal statements for my own career ( including BA (Hons), PGCE and MEd). 

Here is my advice on how to write a memorable personal statement (‘memorable’ for all the right reasons.)

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