Writing essays is a requirement of almost all degree programmes, irrespective of discipline. It is an indispensable skill for success in higher education. In a recent internal survey (Aimhigher 2005), members of staff rated essay-writing as the most crucial academic skill, but also the area in which students tend to be most deficient.
At school and college, essays are a means of assessing how much you know, but at university, they serve a wider purpose. Above all, they are samples of your ability to engage with your subject and think logically. Far greater emphasis is therefore placed on things such as structure, expression and argumentation (see the section on thinking). The volume of information sources you are expected to draw upon, and the amount of necessary background research, is also significantly greater. Therefore, organising this information and acknowledging it in the appropriate manner, through referencing, is more important at university.
This section of mySkills offers advice and activities to help you to improve your essay writing. Although some issues relating to grammar and punctuation are covered, if you are looking for language help rather than writing help, try the next section on language.