Many college freshmen don’t take essays seriously, associating them with assignments they used to write in high school. However, despite having the same name they are quite different. In high school, you could have gotten by summarizing a chapter from your textbook and throwing in a few original thoughts.
A college essay is as serious a research assignment as a dissertation – just on a smaller scale. You should demonstrate that you have understood the material, analyzed it and reached your own conclusions. In other words, don’t retell someone else’s knowledge but transform it.
In this psychology essay writing guide, we will tell how exactly it is done, step by step.
If you are assigned with a topic by your professor you will not have to deal with this stage at all. Only in case you are assigned a topic but don’t like it, you should ask your professor if it can be changed or modified. If you provide good reasons the decision may be in your favor; If you are given some freedom, choose a topic that will show your knowledge and abilities in the most favorable light.
As for more specific ideas, try these:
The most important factor in your essay’s grade is whether you’ve managed to answer the question set in the topic. However, this shouldn’t be treated literally. If, for example, your topic is “Common Causes of Bullying in Middle School”, you shouldn’t just enumerate some factors that are commonly considered as such causes. You should evaluate the information available on the subject critically, review and discuss evidence and make your own conclusions. A good rule of a thumb is to rewrite any essay and title adding words “provide critical evaluation of the data” and “with reference to facts and examples”.
A number of studies suggest a significant correlation between the number of actively used sources and essay grades. When doing your research, make sure that you gather enough sources, but don’t add them purely to bloat your Works Cited page. If a source has no value to your work other than being an extra entry, drop it.
Proceed along these lines:
Psychology essays consist of the same parts as any other and follow the same rules. This means that you should let content words from the title/question lead you and organize the material you’ve gathered according to a traditional plan:
Jot down the main points that are to be mentioned in each of body paragraphs and what evidence you will use to support your points.
As a student of psychology, you should know about anchoring and adjustment effect: the first impression influences the final assessment. Most markers will form a definite evaluation of your essay after reading the first 1-2 sentences. It is much easier to make a good impression from the get-go than to adjust the first negative impression in positive direction.
In other words, if an essay starts off poorly, the marker will be biased against it. And vice versa – if it starts brilliantly, the marker will be more likely to forgive some flaws later on.
There is no single right way to write a good introduction, but some practices are universal. It should:
Normally it is best to write the introduction last, when you have the rest of the essay ready.
The main part of the essay where you introduce all the new information, analyze it and try to find out the truth of the matter. This is the part you have most freedom with, but still you have to follow certain principles:
When you’re done with body paragraphs, don’t just trail off. Introduction defines the first impression, but it is the conclusion that is fresh in the marker’s memory when he thinks what grade to give you.
Most students write their essays and believe that their job ends there. As a result, their grades often suffer due to mistakes and flaws that could have been corrected through only a superficial revision. Meanwhile, skilled writers spend just as much if not more time rereading, proofreading, correcting and revising their essays than they spent on writing per se. However, it is not the time you spend revising nor the number of revisions but rather how you approach the job.
Unfortunately, most psychology students understand revision as merely checking their writing for grammar and spelling mistakes. However, they mix it up with editing, which is just a part, and the least important one, of revision.
Revision checklist is a list of questions you have to ask yourself when revising the first draft of your essay. Ideally, you should reread your essay at least twice, each time concentrating on different aspects:
If you cannot reach your word count with meaningful content, you should do additional research. Filler text not only does a poor job at masking the lack of meaningful content but also can turn into a bad habit that is very hard to break.
And finally – if you find that you don’t like how your essay turns out and still have free time, don’t hesitate to cut entire parts of it or start from scratch. Your purpose here is not to get rid of an assignment but to get the best possible grade – and the more you practice, the more likely you are to impress your tutors!