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Essay - ATK

Creating a plan

Planning and organization will allow you to achieve the best potential outcome for the module you are working on. This process should help you to make efficient use of your time, avoid unnecessary repetition, clarify your thinking, and make your materials organized and accessible.


Create a timetable
It is a good idea first of all to create a time management plan (timetable) for the assignment, which should include time for:

  • Analysis of the question
  • Finding resources
  • Reading, research, and note-taking
  • Generating ideas and formulating an essay outline plan
  • First draft, editing, further research, second draft, editing, further researc
  • Final draft, proofreading, submission of assignment


Identifying themes
Once you have carefully analysed the question and completed some background research, you should be able to identify the main themes that you need to cover and have a good idea of the position that you will adopt (your thesis). Sometimes formulating a one line answer to the essay question, as a summary of your position, can be a helpful way to clarify your thinking. 

Organising work
At this stage you need to set out the order in which to introduce your ideas (or the themes) in your essay. To do this you could use either pattern notes or linear notes with headings and bullet points. Keep in mind the word count and how many words you will be allocating to each section (assessment criteria will be useful in guiding you as to the areas you need to cover).

Here is an example of a (generic) linear notes outline plan: 
 

  1. Title                                                                        
  2. Introduction – 10%
    1. Background to topic
    2. Naming of themes and order of discussion
  3. Theme 1 (red folder) – 25%                                         
    1. Explanation / Example
    2. Evidence for
    3. Evidence against
    4. Evaluation / discussion of evidence
  4. Theme 2 (yellow folder) – 25%
    1. Explanation / Example
    2. Evidence for
    3. Evidence against
    4. Evaluation / discussion of evidence
  5. Theme 3 (green folder) – 25%
    1. Explanation / Example
    2. Evidence for
    3. Evidence against
    4. Evaluation / discussion of evidence
  6. Conclusion – 10%
    1. Summary of main discussion points
    2. Recommendations for future


As can be seen from the plan, you have organized your research notes into separate coloured folders to allow easy access to your evidence collection. You have indicated the percentage of word count to be allocated to each section and you have outlined the main themes, how these themes will be broken down and discussed, and the order in which the themes will be dealt with. 

With this information you are in a good position to write your first draft.

Links to additional resources