Posts Tagged ‘writing process’


Five Ways to Keep an Essay Paper Organized

Proper organization is the difference between a good essay and a weak one. An essay that is well organized is easier for the reader to understand and enjoy, while poorly organized essays force the reader to do extra work. Readers aren’t the only ones who benefit from a well organized essay; using simple organization techniques while writing will make the process easier for you as well.

Make a Plan

Before you begin writing, take some time to make a master plan fro your essay. Decide what information you want to cover and the method you will use to accomplish this. If your paper is a narrative, you might use pre-writing activities like brainstorming to come up with ideas. If you are writing a research paper, clustering to find a focus might work better for you. Though your plan may change as you research and write your paper, making a plan will help streamline the writing process by helping you focus on a final goal for your paper. Write your plan down and keep it near you as you write your paper to make certain that you are headed in the right direction.

Take Good Notes

Organized notes are essential for an organized essay paper. While conducting research for your paper, use your master plan to identify the topics you need to research and the questions you must answer in your paper. Write your notes on index cards; not only will they help you stay organized, but their small size forces you to condense information and keep your notes brief, which will reduce the risk of unintentional plagiarism. Carefully label each card with a topic and reference information.

Create an Outline

An outline is a kind of road map for your essay and is more detailed than your essay plan. The method you use to outline your paper will depend upon your style of writing and the type of paper you are writing; an outline for a personal narrative will probably be less detailed than the outline for a research paper. Use roman numerals or letters to organize main ideas, and then break those main ideas into smaller chunks of information.

Topic Sentences

Use topic sentences to organize ideas within your paper. These topic sentences can be used in your outline as main ideas. Begin each new paragraph or section of your paper with a topic sentence that outlines the main idea of that section. Then, use supporting sentences to expand upon or explain that topic sentence.


After you have written a rough draft, create a reverse outline, recommends the University of Toronto Writing Centre. To make a reverse outline, go through your paper and write down each main idea on a separate sheet of paper in the order in which they appear, leaving plenty of space between each topic. When you have finished, read through the main ideas to make sure that they make sense. Make sure that you have not left out key points or repeated topics. Make changes to your draft if needed. Next, go through your paper to find sentences that support your main topics, and jot these down below each topic on your reverse outline. This will ensure that you fully explain each main topic.

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How do I Write a Praxis Essay?

The Praxis essay section is 30 minutes long and contains only one question. It asks you to reflect on your personal experience and observations and to use them for information, examples, and even generalizations throughout the writing process. The essay question generates a raw score that ranges from 2 to 12. This section of the exam tests your ability to read through the topic carefully, organize your argument before drafting the essay and then write it lucidly and concisely. The essay requires basic knowledge of college-level writing. Papers are scored on the writer’s ability to achieve a good level of organization and the development of ideas with supporting evidence of specific examples; identifying the essay’s intended audience; understanding of the assignment; masterful use of language; and accuracy of usage, mechanics and paragraphing.

  • Carefully read through and examine the prompt. The Praxis essay topics ask you to discuss your stance on a given statement. This implies that you may either completely agree or disagree with a statement. In addition, you may use a middle-ground approach to your essay if that works best for you.
  • Plan your essay for at least eight minutes. The planning is essential, because it will actually enhance the quality of the essay. Before you start writing, be sure to make a list of all your supporting details. Then select two or three of your finest arguments and organize them logically. Organizing the arguments in advance is critical, especially if you are taking the paper-based Praxis exam, as you would not be able to reorder huge chunks of the text once you have begun writing. Analyze and discuss your points in an interesting way.
  • Draft the essay. Try to finish your draft in 15 minutes so you can have at least a few minutes to reread the essay at the end.
  • Include a concise and clear introduction to your topic, but don’t spend too much time on it.
  • Add an effective conclusion to the essay that accurately sums up the main points and evaluates the benefits.
  • Use the remaining time to revise the essay. Read your draft carefully, looking for omitted words, awkward phrasing, problematic transitions and similar issues. Pay close attention to errors in sentence structure and subject-verb agreement. In addition, be sure to avoid the use of the second-person pronoun “you” in your writing.
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How to Outline English Papers

As stated by “REA’s Handbook of English Grammar, Style, and Writing,” proceeding without an outline is like navigating a new city without a map. Unfortunately, most students new to essay writing are unfamiliar with how to outline an English paper. Students who neglect to use an outline often produce rambling, Faulkner-esque essays. Taking an hour to gather your thoughts and write an outline can save time writing the essay and lead to a better grade.

Acquaint yourself with an outline template. The Owl at Purdue states that most outlines use Roman numerals for essay sections (introduction, main points and conclusion) and, in descending order of specificity with indentations, capitalized letters, Arabic numerals and lowercase letters.

Start with the introduction. Include a fact or statistic to introduce the essay, or include background information on the issue or author discussed. At this stage in the writing process, listing the specific quote or tidbit of information is not necessary. Simply note its inclusion in the outline. State your thesis and list the three main points of the essay.

Outline the first theme of the essay in two or three words. For example, write “capitalism” if the topic of your paper is discussing themes of Ayn Rand’s book, “Atlas Shrugged.” List (as Arabic numerals within the template) three or more ways the book supports this theme, like “Dagney Taggart’s refusal of government assistance.” Because you will elaborate on these points upon writing the essay, keep the outline’s description of these points to one sentence. Repeat this process for the other two themes.

Gather supporting information. Go to the library, search the Internet or use your textbook to find credible sources that support your points. Color-code your themes to make the process easier: delegate one theme, “capitalism” in yellow, “individualism” in green and “objectivism” in blue. For all supporting quotes or page numbers, highlight it in a color that matches the theme to which it corresponds for easier reference.

On the outline, determine which point should be bolstered with the sources found. For example, the book’s metaphor for socialism found in the passage describing moldy government-subsidized soybeans would be placed in the theme, “capitalism” under the point, “Government failures.” Under this point (as a lower-case letter within the template), write the page number of the passage or write a short description of the source.

Write points for the conclusion. Dirk Siepmann, author of the book “Writing in English,” recommends using the conclusion to express outcomes of the issues discussed in the essay and give statements regarding open ends and unanswered questions.

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