STUDENTS: 3 quick ways to get better grades!

JenAngel By JenAngel, 4th Oct 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Personal Development>Improving Potential

Three foolproof methods that will help you get a better grade in your essays. Easy marks can be lost because of silly mistakes - these three tips will help you avoid that!

1. What do human veins and essay writing have in common...?

One of the easiest ways to get a good mark is to ensure you have a clear thread running through your essay. Think of a vein running through the body. The vein is really important to how the body functions, yet it is subtly hidden under the skin.

In your essay, the vein is your argument, which relates to how you're answering the essay title. Before writing, you should be asking "What is your point of this essay?" "What am I concluding?". Now carry this through your work like a vein carries blood! Make sure you know exactly what is being asked of you - it can be helpful to review the type of essay so you have more of an idea of what is expected.


I wrote an essay on the title: "Can Virtual Communities Exist Online".

My main thread was something like: "Yes they can exist online, but they're different to the type of community available offline, especially the traditional and pastoral type that is perhaps no longer around. However offline and online communities do share some similar traits and in today's society we have the World Wide Web; maybe this is how people choose to connect and form community in 2011?"

I had chosen this argument from the get-go, deciding it during the planning stages of my essay. I argued this throughout my essay, discussing it at length in the body of my work.

In the introduction I presented the themes of offline and online communities and how they differ, plus I set out to discuss globalisation and how our society is now interconnected. This is very vague and didn't answer the question, but it does introduce the themes of the topic, which are needed to provide an answer!

In my conclusion I stated my argument explicitly, answering the question. I wrote something like "The evidence provided in this essay suggests that yes, community can exist online, but..."

You need to do this too.


1) Choose an argument in the planning stage
2) Set out the main themes you'll be discussing in the introduction
3) In the body, discuss the themes & provide evidence to support your claims
4) In the conclusion, explicitly state your argument and answer the question.

2. The early bird catches the worm (or the 1st class grade in this case) ...

Your tutor will spot an essay written at the last minute, no matter how good you think it is. I guarantee it.

How to spot an essay written at the last minute:

It will contain many inconsistencies (because you had no time to proofread) For example, misspellings/malapropisms that spellcheck didn’t pick up (e.g. form and from) wrong dates in citations and the capitalisation of some words but not others (e.g. Twitter and twitter).

Plus, it is likely that a student who rushed an essay will only reference several journal articles and book chapters, instead of a large variety of citations from a plethora of different sources.

What to do:

Create a checklist of things to proofread before you hand in. Cross each item off the list once you’re happy it has been completed. Include misspellings, grammar, citations, quotations (consistency of double/single quote usage), capitalisation and referencing).

Allow yourself MORE TIME by starting EARLY. Choose your essay title early (if possible) - preferably as soon as your lecturer gives them to you, even if you haven’t had all the classes yet! Start reading for your essay AS SOON as you know which title you’re going to answer and then you won’t be rushed at the last minute. Instead, start early, read a few items per week and then relax when it comes to essay writing time! It will mean you hand your work in early AND have time to proofread it before doing so!

Click here for some more great tips on writing a first class essay.

3. Copying and pasting references from elsewhere (legitimately, honest!)

Referencing is one of the easiest parts of essay writing, yet many put it off thinking it’s confusing and difficult.

Don’t lose points by stuffing up your referencing. There are easy marks to be earned if you do it correctly.

Use my foolproof method and you will be following the guidelines and ensuring your references are consistent too!

What to do:

Visit your university’s website and download your handbook or referencing guide. Can’t find it or was given it on paper? Email your administrator and ask them to email you the guide.

Open up the document and find the EXACT referencing guidelines your university uses. (Do not just type ‘Harvard referencing’ into Google - they need to be from your university. At my old uni we were told to do Harvard but search results showed a slightly different method to the one we were expected to do. Be sure and get the guidelines form the uni itself).

Next, select the type of reference you’re after, whether it’s a journal article, book chapter, presentation etc etc.

Copy and paste it into your reference list in your essay.

Now, carefully change every detail - name, date, book/journal title, page numbers. But keep the punctuation and capitalisation intact.

Finally, edit the font of your reference to keep in line with the rest of your essay (again, consistency is important!)

And repeat for every type reference!

This ensures ALL of your essay references are 100% correct to your university guidelines. You’ll be certain each one is perfect, a foolproof way to ensure you don’t lose silly marks!!

There are two more things you can do to ensure you don't miss out in this department. The first is to use a professional proofreading service who can give you feedback before you hand in your work. The other thing you can do is to use a free plagiarism checker to make sure you haven't accidentally included material that you haven't referenced properly, since this mistake can be costly.


Dissertation, Dissertations, Essay, Essays, Grades, Help, Student, Students, Tips, Writing

Meet the author

author avatar JenAngel
I'm a 41 year old Business Development Manager and FCILEx and former lecturer with a passion for writing about business, marketing, law and education related topics.

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