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Essay Writing

Have you ever started reading for an essay and ended up confused by too many facts or too much information? It can feel like you're overwhelmed by bits of information that don't add up to a picture you can understand, as if you can't see the forest for the trees . This can happen when you read material that's too detailed, before you have an overall 'picture' of the topic. This section will give you some tips for managing the reading process.

The early stages of reading in preparation for an assignment should be about getting the 'big picture' of the topic. To get this big picture, you need to read things like:

bullet your lecture notes (which will probably give you a brief overview of the topic)
bullet an introductory text in your discipline of study, eg. Introduction to Psychology (this will give you a very detailed overview of the full range of topics in your discipline)
bullet very general texts

Reading broadly will allow you to:

bullet begin to understand the issues involved in the topic
bullet get an idea of who the most important writers are in the field
bullet get an overview of theories related to the topic
bullet see possible answers to the essay question
bullet decide what issues/books/journals to read in more detail.

Remember that while you read, you must always keep the essay question in mind. The purpose of your reading is to gather information to answer the question, not just talk about a topic! As you read, you will also need to use efficient and effective reading strategies. These will let you quickly work out what writers are saying and will stop you from spending too much time reading.

You'll also have to use strategies that make sure you read critically. These strategies will make sure that you don't believe everything you read. Remember that not everything that is written is the truth and can be relied on, so you, as a reader, will have to think about what you read and decide what to trust and what not to trust.



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Introduction Analysis of Questions The Research Process The Essay Writing Process Summary