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Academic essays

The majority of your assessment is done through writing. In most study areas, you will be asked to write essays for assignments and in exams. Essays may be as short as 500 words or as long as 2000-3000 words. So, it is important that you develop a good grasp of essay writing and all that it involves.

This workshop:

Key words: essay, assignment, subject specific writing

About essays and assignments

The academic essay is the most common type of writing expected of you in assignments and for exams. An assignment essay is developed across a number of weeks and includes research. Because you have TIME to develop your essay, your work must be properly referenced and of a very high standard. An essay written under exam conditions is set to test your knowledge and understanding. Exam essays generally do not require referencing and are more forgiving with grammatical inaccuracy.

Your essay writing experiences

Exercise 1: WHO are you?

Hover over the questions to see the answer.

I wrote countless assignments and exam essays for my HSC.
Won't uni studies be more of the same?

I am doing my second degree. Is anything new for me?

I haven't written more than a grocery list for years!

The teachers always covered my essays in 'red' correction marks!

I am an international student. English is my second language.

Writing for different subjects

While essay basics will give you the essentials of all essay writing, some subject areas will differ in:

  • the structure of the writing task (e.g. a report, a case study, a position paper, a literature review)
  • the referencing system (e.g. Law-AGLC, Psychology-APA, History-FOOTNOTING)

This will be clearly explained to you in your Study Guide. Take note of this and respond to your instructions. The ASO has a number of subject-specific writing sites to assist you with these differences.

What the lecturers want (assessment)

NO QUESTION ABOUT IT! The lecturer wants you to answer the set question.

NO DOUBTS HERE! The lecturer wants your work to be in the correct essay form, logically and clearly written and mechanically correct.

WITHOUT QUESTION! The lecturer (and the university) expects you to acknowledge the source of the information you use and to hand in your own work.

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