The importance of planning and structure

time to complete: 15 minutes

As we have said, coherence is achieved when ideas are connected. This means that you need to think about the relationship between the ideas in the different parts of your essay and how to organise them at the planning stage. These ideas can then be developed into an academic argument.

If you do this well, your reader will be able to say at the end, “that was easy to read. I could easily follow the writer’s argument, the flow of ideas was very clear and I never got lost.”

How can I understand the essay question?

It is first important to ensure you understand the question itself and especially the instruction words. These are words showing how to answer the question, such as discuss, outline, or evaluate. Sometimes you will see 2 (or more) instruction words in one essay question, as in the example below.

Critically discuss the evolution of Tempo Markings in Bach’s English Suite No.3, within the Scholarly Critical Edition, Performance Edition and Urtext Edition.

(Music – MA in Performance Studies)

The instruction word critically discuss tells the writer how to approach the topic and the writing of the essay. Critically discuss is one of the most common instruction words and means the writer must analyze and interpret the given topic, and then present a logical argument with explanation and evidence. Other typical instruction words are evaluate, outline, and compare

Task: To check your understanding of these key instruction words, can you complete the following exercise? 

Adapted from: source

Further study

If you want to learn more about undestanding essay questions, please look through the presentation below and then try this Understanding the essay question task.  

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