How To Write An Academic Essay Plan

Essay planning and structure

It is really important to plan your essay before you begin writing. Planning will save you time later. It is also essential that you have a starting point to plan from, even if it is in a very rough form.

The obvious place to start is at the assignment question itself. From the question you can develop your answer in the form of a thesis statement. From there you can decide what your essay's subtopics will be and what you want to say about them. After you have a basic idea of what you want to talk about, you can begin to write the essay.

However, when writing an essay, it can also be difficult to come up with a point of view early on. Therefore, instead of developing a thesis statement first, you may choose to read up on the assignment question and make notes on relevant concepts, theories, and studies. Once you have these notes and can develop a summary of the issues, it should be much easier to write a thesis statement.

For more information on analysing the assignment question and planning your essay, see planning assignments.

Essay structure

All essays share the same basic structure, although they may differ in content and style. The essence of an essay is an opinion, expressed as a thesis statement or proposition, and a logical sequence of arguments and information organised in support of the proposition.

Page authorised by Director, CTL
Last updated on 26 October, 2012

Before you start writing your essay, it is important that you plan it. Below is an example of what an essay plan should look like (including explanations and tips), and how much detail it should contain. You can use this as a guide for your essay plans.

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Essay Question: Was the Russian Revolution a genuine revolution or was it a coup?

Word Limit: 2,000 words

Introduction (10% of word limit): 200 words

Introductions should never be longer than 500 words, so this 10% guide only applies to essays shorter than 5,000 words.

To be considered an Introduction, an Introduction must do two things:

Answer the question – It was a genuine revolution.
This must be done first. An Introduction must answer the question. This is how you put forward a strong argument.

List the evidence your essay will put forward to prove your answer – This can be seen through an examination of the sections of society which supported the revolution. workers, peasants, soldiers, national minorities. Any major topic or subject that you plan to discuss in your essay must be introduced in the Introduction.

Body of the Essay: 400 words each

How long you spend writing about each subject should reflect the importance of each subject. If all four topics are of equal importance, write roughly the same amount of words on each. If a topic is more important, write about it first and write more words on it. If a topic is less important, write about it last and write fewer words on it.

Topic 1: workers

Topic 2: peasants

Topic 3: soldiers

Topic 4:  national minorities

Conclusion (10% of word limit): 200 words

Conclusions should never be longer than 500 words, so this 10% guide only applies to essays shorter than 5,000 words.

To be considered a Conclusion, a Conclusion must do two things:

Answer the essay question again (using different words than in the Introduction, don’t repeat yourself exactly) –  It was a genuine revolution.

Recap (repeat, summaries) all the evidence you have given to prove your answer during your essay– workers, peasants, soldiers, national minorities

A conclusion must not contain any new information, you are only summarising what you have already written.

Click Here to Download a Free Essay Template

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