So at the beginning of the year I made a pact to myself, there will be no last minute essays and no half-hearted attempts – we’re aiming for 1sts all around, this is 2nd year after all. So a fortnight ago we were set a cognitive sports psychology essay, now this is definitely not my strong point. Personally I’m more into social psychology, so I was pretty intimidated by this cognitive based essay and it really didn’t help that we had 2 other deadlines due on the same week. I knew procrastination wasn’t an option due to the tightly spaced deadlines for my other assignments, so I started prepping this essay almost immediately, aiming to upload it to Turnitin at least a week and a half prior the deadline (I was successful). Here’s how I prepped and eventually wrote my essay!
1) Wrapping your head around the question – For me this involves highlighting the key points within the question and essentially mentally producing a general idea of what the question is asking.
2) Recommended Reading – So generally for an essay you’ll be assigned 4-5 articles listed as recommended reading which provide research evidence for the essay question set, don’t be alarmed if it doesn’t click straight away though…
3) Speak to your personal tutor and peer mentor – So if step 1 or 2 didn’t work out so well for you (it didn’t for me), don’t waste your time stressing about what the question wants, instead reach out to your peer mentor and/or your personal tutor. I’m ashamed to say I didn’t make use of my peer mentor or personal tutor at all during first year, but they’re honestly great I spent a good few days stressing over my essay, ended up emailing both of them my queries and within a day I was back on essay writing track.
4) Find more research – Psychinfo is literally your best-friend, it has such a large database of research you’ll 100% find articles that work for you. I was still uncertain about the essay after reading the recommended articles, but after searching through psychinfo and finding some really useful articles the essay suddenly just clicked.
5) Summarise the articles – Summarise the articles you found, write down what the studies aimed to find, how they found it and what the results were.
6) Put them into a table – I columned the table by aim of study, general method, results, how it relates to the essay question and how to potentially critique the methodology of the study.
7) Link studies together – If studies have something in common, for example they’re both studying perception or both use FMRI scans, link them together (I highlighted the studies that had some kind of common theme), that way when it came to writing the essay I knew I could paragraph them together.
8) Write the essay – Your timetable is basically your plan each column is content for a paragraph and you have your linked studies to incorporate into your paragraph also! This minimises the time spent on actually writing the essay by a million, as all your content is ready and your basically writing off of a script!
9) Re-read/re-write each sentence – If you find you’ve gone over the word limit re-read each sentence (sentence by sentence) and if you’ve found you’ve rambled on or repeated yourself you can cut it out. You’ll probably find a few typos in the process so you can fix them up too.
10) Final read over – Finally just re-read the essay, double checking everything is in order making sure there’s no typos or mistakes! and you’re done!