My Information Skills

Self-paced tutorials on research and study skills for TAFE SA students


An essay is written prose which aims to answer a question about a topic, and convince the reader of your point of view.

You need to:

  • explain, comment on or assess information that you have researched
  • provide evidence to support your views
  • demonstrate analytical thinking

It can be short or very long.You need to write in paragraphs, using correct sentences, and follow a logical order.

Bullet points are not allowed.

An essay has four sections: 

  • Introduction (10% of word count)
    • Present your point of view and it's importance
    • Background information, scope and define terms
    • Should be written second
    • Keep it brief
  • Body (80% of word count)
    • Arguments and facts to build and support your point of view
    • Should be written first
    • Several paragraphs, each focusing on one idea from your research
  • Conclusion (10% of word count)
    • Restate your point of view from the introduction
    • don't bring in any new facts, ideas or arguments
    • Should be written last
  • Reference list (This is not included in your word count)

Before you start, think about when the essay is due, and how much time you need to spend on preparation and writing. Then plan and allocate time to the following:

Analyse the assignment

  • review What information do I need?
  • think about what you already know and decide what you need to find out
  • decide what point of view you want to take

Find your information

  • review How do I find information?
  • evaluate the information that you find. Is it relevant, current, the right level?
  • make notes
  • note down bibliographic information for your reference list as you do your research

Organise your information

  • this is the most important step
  • do a rough plan with headings and dot points. Brainstorm.
    See video Planning your essay (4:15 mins)
  • your plan will give structure and flow to your essay
  • alternatively create a mind map

Write first draft

  • start writing the body first
  • it is best to use a computer, so that you can easily rearrange your content, edit, spell check and monitor your word count
  • use your own words
  • focus each paragraph on one heading or idea
  • save continually, and back up regularly


  • proofread for correct grammar, spelling, capitalisation etc.
  • add page numbers and any required footers 
  • check for clarity of thought and logical order
  • read your essay aloud to see if it makes sense
  • get someone else to read it

Write final draft 

Submit essay

  • prepare cover sheet
  • keep an electronic copy

See the TAFE SA Library Guide on Essay Writing.

For university level essay writing, watch How to write an excellent essay (14:13)

It is important that you read the feedback that your lecturer gives you. 
This will help you improve your next essay.

If you did not receive any feedback, ask your lecturer for comments. Your lecturer may have samples of good essays for you to model.

Share and discuss your feedback with other students.

Use all feedback as a guide when planning your next assignment. You will know what areas to work harder on, e.g. sentence structure, muddled thoughts, insufficient research etc. If possible, incorporate techniques which received praise in your next essay. Ask for help if you still find some aspects difficult.

Every essay writing exercise should be a positive learning experience for you.