4 Simple Steps for Planning an Essay and Achieving Success

4 Simple Steps for Planning an Essay and Achieving Success

Planning and organizing an essay can be a daunting task, especially for college students who are juggling multiple modules and subjects in their studies. However, with these four simple steps, you can make the process of planning and producing a good essay much easier.

The first step is to carefully read and understand the essay question or prompt. Take the time to break it down and identify the main keywords and guidelines. This will help you stay focused and ensure that your essay stays central to the topic at hand.

Next, it’s crucial to do some critical thinking and brainstorming. One-to-one sessions with a tutor or even a quick Google search can help you gather ideas and generate a list of key points to include in your essay. It’s important to draw from your own knowledge and experiences, as well as from relevant readings and examples.

Now that you have your structure in place, it’s time to start writing your first draft. Don’t worry too much about getting everything perfect straight away. Just focus on getting your ideas out on paper. You can always edit and fine-tune your essay later. Aim to write a short but actionable first draft, which addresses all the key points you have identified.

Lastly, don’t forget to proofread and edit your essay. This is where you can find any errors or inconsistencies and make sure your essay flows well. It’s also a good idea to have someone else read your essay and provide feedback, as they may catch things that you have missed.

Step 1: Understand the Essay Prompt

The essay prompt will state the topic or question that you need to answer. Take the time to read it carefully and make sure you understand what is being asked of you. If there are any unfamiliar terms or concepts, take note of them and research them further.

Next, check if there are any specific guidelines or instructions provided by your lecturer or the course module. These guidelines will help you understand the expectations for the essay and the criteria that will be used to assess your work.

Once you have a good grasp of the essay prompt and the guidelines, you can start generating ideas for your essay. Jot down any initial thoughts or arguments that come to mind. This will help you develop a strong and original thesis statement.

While you’re brainstorming, gather every piece of relevant information and examples that you can find. This can include readings, research papers, case studies, or any other sources that are related to the topic. Having a bundle of information will make it easier for you to write a well-supported argumentative essay.

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Nowadays, most essays are written in a structured and academic manner. This means that you need to plan and organize your essay effectively. Here’s a simple outline that can be used as a starting point:

  1. Main Body: This is where you will develop your arguments and provide evidence to support them. Each point should be a separate paragraph and should be clearly stated and supported.

By having a clear and structured plan, you will be able to write a more coherent and logical essay. It will also make the writing process much quicker and more efficient.

While planning your essay, keep in mind that different types of essays have different requirements. For example, a history essay might require you to analyze primary sources, while a discursive essay might require you to present arguments from multiple perspectives.

So, make sure to read the essay prompt carefully and understand what type of essay you are expected to write. This will help you tailor your research and plan accordingly.

In summary, understanding the essay prompt is the first step in planning and writing a successful essay. Take the time to state the prompt, check for guidelines, and gather relevant information. By following these steps, you can effectively develop your argument and create a well-structured essay that will impress your markers.

Step 2: Research and Gather Information

1. Understand the assignment

Before you start researching, it’s important to fully understand the assignment requirements. Take note of the specific topics or questions provided by your lecturer or module guide. This will help you narrow down your research and stay focused on the task at hand.

2. Find credible sources

When conducting research, make sure to use credible and reputable sources. Academic journals, books, and peer-reviewed articles are usually the best sources to consult. Watch out for biased or unreliable information, and be cautious when using online sources. Remember to cross-check the information from multiple sources to ensure accuracy.

3. Take organized notes

As you read through your research materials, take notes to help you remember and organize the information. Highlight key points, important quotes, and any supporting evidence that may be relevant to your essay. This will make it easier to refer back to your sources when writing your essay and help you avoid plagiarism.

4. Create an outline

By following these steps, you’ll be well on your way to conducting thorough research and gathering the necessary information for your essay. Remember to stay organized, take note of your sources, and always strive for originality and academic integrity in your work.

Step 3: Create an Essay Outline

Here are some helpful tips on how to create an effective essay outline:

  • 1. Identify the central idea: Think about the main question or topic of your essay and come up with a concise and clear thesis statement that sums up your main argument or perspective.
  • 2. Use a mind-map or brainstorming: Take a blank sheet of paper or use a digital tool like Google Docs and jot down all the ideas that come to your mind regarding the topic. Draw lines and connect related ideas to create a visual representation of your essay’s structure.
  • 3. Organize your ideas: Once you have identified the key points and ideas, arrange them in a logical order. Start with the most important point and then move on to supporting points and examples. Use headings, subheadings, and bullet points to make your outline more structured and easier to follow.
See also How to Craft Powerful Topic Sentences for Your Essays

By creating an essay outline, you can ensure that your ideas flow smoothly and that you have enough supporting evidence for your arguments. It also allows you to see if you’re missing any important points and helps you avoid the temptation of going off-topic.

Once you have your essay outline prepared, you can start writing your first draft. Keep in mind that this is just a guideline, and you can make changes to your outline as you go. The main goal is to have a clear roadmap for your essay that will make the writing process much easier and more efficient.

Step 4: Write the Essay and Revise

Once you have completed the previous steps, it’s time to put your thoughts and ideas into words and start writing the essay. Here’s how:

  1. Create a well-structured outline: Use the information from your mind-map to create a detailed outline for your essay. This outline will serve as a roadmap for your writing and help you stay on track.
  2. Develop your arguments: In the body paragraphs of your essay, expand on each of the main points you outlined in step 2. Provide evidence, examples, and supporting facts to back up your arguments. Be sure to use clear and logical reasoning to make your points.
  3. Revise and edit: Once you have written the first draft of your essay, take some time to revise and edit it. Check for grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, and unclear sentences. Make sure your essay flows well and is cohesive.
  4. Ask for feedback: It’s always a good idea to have someone else read your essay and provide feedback. They may catch errors or suggest improvements that you might have missed.
  5. Revise again: After receiving feedback, revise your essay accordingly. Make any necessary changes to strengthen your arguments and clarify your points.

Remember that writing is a process, and producing a well-written essay takes time and effort. So, give yourself enough time to work on each step, and don’t be afraid to turn to the resources provided here for guidance and support. Good luck!

Argumentative Essay Planning Sheet

Step 1: Understand the Essay Question

Take some time to fully comprehend the essay question. Write down the key terms and identify the central topic that needs to be covered within your essay. This will help you stay focused throughout the writing process.

Step 2: Research and Gather Information

Before diving into writing, gather relevant literature and information on your topic. Familiarize yourself with different perspectives and arguments to have a well-rounded understanding of the issue at hand.

Step 3: Create an Outline

Outline the main points and arguments you want to cover in your essay. This will give you a clear structure to follow and ensure that you stay on track with your thesis statement throughout your writing.

Check and Edit

Once you have a full draft, go through your essay and check for any errors or inconsistencies. Make sure your arguments are clear and supported by evidence. Pay attention to grammar and punctuation. If possible, have someone else read it and provide feedback.

See also 6 Tips for Writing Effective Reasoning in Your Essays

Sample Argumentative Essay Planning Sheet

SectionWhat to Include
– Attention-grabbing opening
– Background information
– Thesis statement
Body Paragraphs– Topic sentence
– Supporting evidence
– Counterarguments
– Analysis
– Summary of main points
– Restatement of thesis
– Final thought or call to action

By following this planning sheet, you can streamline your essay writing process and improve the overall quality of your argumentative essay. Good luck!

Step 1: Choose a Controversial Topic

Although it may require some extra thinking and research, a controversial topic will spark discussion and debate. It will challenge the reader’s beliefs and create a desire to learn more. When the reader is engaged, the essay will stand out among the bundle of essays that marker has to read.

Choosing a controversial topic doesn’t mean deliberately picking a side. Instead, it means selecting a subject that has multiple viewpoints and can be argued from different perspectives. This could be a topic related to current events, social issues, scientific studies, or even philosophical questions.

Before jumping into the topic, it’s essential to check if it’s suitable for the essay’s purpose and guidelines provided by the teacher. Ensure that the topic allows for in-depth exploration and analysis within the given word count or space limitations.

To choose a controversial topic, start by brainstorming a list of ideas and then gather a number of reliable sources to support different points of view. Remember to consider the potential impacts and consequences of the topic to make sure it’s worth exploring in the essay.

Once a topic is chosen, it’s time to generate an initial outline or plan. This will serve as a roadmap during the writing process and help organize thoughts and ideas. A simple template can be used, such as:

Outline Template:

  1. Main Point 1
  2. Main Point 2
  3. Main Point 3
  4. Counterargument

Within each main point, there can be subpoints that further support the argument. Remember to consider both the pros and cons of the topic and address any opposing arguments.

Once the outline is complete, it’s time to dive into the writing process. While writing, keep in mind the purpose of the essay and the target audience. Use your knowledge on the topic and refer back to the gathered sources to include relevant evidence and examples.

Once the essay is written, take some time to review and edit the work. Check for any grammatical or spelling errors and ensure that the essay flows smoothly. It may be helpful to have a friend or teacher read the essay and provide feedback.

By following these actionable steps, choosing a controversial topic for an essay becomes a streamlined process. Remember to think critically and consider different perspectives while selecting the topic, and don’t shy away from exploring challenging subjects. With proper planning and execution, a well-structured and thought-provoking essay is within reach!


What is the purpose of an essay?

The purpose of an essay varies depending on the type and context. Generally, the purpose of an essay is to present an argument, express a point of view, inform or explain a topic, persuade the reader, or reflect on a personal experience. Essays can also be used to showcase research, analyze information, or showcase one’s writing skills.

Why is it important to create an outline before writing an essay?

Creating an outline before writing an essay is important because it helps in organizing your thoughts and ideas. It provides a structure for your essay, ensuring that you include all the necessary information and arguments. An outline also helps in maintaining a logical flow of ideas and ensures that your essay is well-structured and coherent. By creating an outline, you can save time and avoid writer’s block.

Alex Koliada, PhD

By Alex Koliada, PhD

Alex Koliada, PhD, is a well-known doctor. He is famous for studying aging, genetics, and other medical conditions. He works at the Institute of Food Biotechnology and Genomics. His scientific research has been published in the most reputable international magazines. Alex holds a BA in English and Comparative Literature from the University of Southern California, and a TEFL certification from The Boston Language Institute.