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Is my quality of writing up to university level?

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    Posted: 10 Jul 2009 at 20:21
Does anyone think my quality of writing up to university level?

I ask this as I'm taking some pretty competitive History and English classes in the fall.

In addition I will be sure to contribute some of my papers written at college to AE if I can in the fall.Wink


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WolfHound85 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote WolfHound85 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Jul 2009 at 06:01
I would say wait until you take an upper level history course like a 300 or 400 level course. Do your research paper and see what grade you get. Or ask a professor they will rate the best.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote hugoestr Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Jul 2009 at 15:08
One graduate student instructor gave me the following advice: After each sentence that you write, ask yourself, "why?" And then answer the question. Repeat. One of my highest graded papers were written following this method :)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Zagros Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Jul 2009 at 18:32
You can write as eloquently as Winston Churchill  or similar but that will not count for much if you don't have structure and technique in your prose, from my experience (I won the university class medal for my programme btw - basically I got the highest grade). 

What I mean is breaking any given problem/question into constituent parts so you know what you have to answer, this applies to both exams and coursework.  Depending on the format (e.g. report or essay) you should also consider where you will answer each problem.  You need a clear understanding of what is required in each constituent part.  For example:

e.g. Essay:

Introduction (no more than 10% of total word count, suggest that it is written after the body)
 - A concise description of the problem in your own words
 - A short context around the problem
 - Briefly, the purpose of your prose
 - What the reader will expect to read in the body of the work (i.e. its constituent sections)

Body
 - Arranged into logically consecutive sections according to the individual problems you have derived from the initial question (e.g. chronologically)
 - help ensure readability by linking one paragraph to the next using terminology such as, "additionally, subsequently, consequently" - do not use terms such as 'also' in stead of 'additionally', 'but' in stead of 'however' and 'as' in stead of 'because' (you get the picture).
 - Keep your content relevant (i.e. ensure you are addressing the problem posed by the question and not padding the essay out with irrelevant drivel, no matter how well written said drivel is and don't repeat yourself).

Conclusion (again usually no more than 10% of total word count)
 - Briefly remind the reader of the highlights in your prose
 - Their implications and what can be concluded from them
 - Sometimes you will be asked for a recommendation - ensure that this is soundly and logically based on the content of your prose (in the body and touched upon in the preceding lines of the conlcusion)
 - NEVER introduce any NEW concepts or facts or anything in the conclusion.


General tip:
- Writing introductions and conclusions is an art and the more you do it, the better you get at it.  Also, the more you use your chosen technique the easier it is for you to analyse qauestions quickly and decide what you are going to write about and how.

- Obvious one but: avoid the use of pronouns (first through to third person), abbreviations (e.g.  don't), qualify all acronyms (e.g. All Empires (AE) - this also becaomes instinctual with practice.

- If you know exactly the answer to any given essay question and answer all the relevant areas where content is concerned and you're wondering why you got an average mark - it is likely because you failed on structure - never underestimate its value in writing academic prose/reports.

I think if you stick to a framework like this (and develop it to your own needs) then you'll do well.

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Parnell View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Parnell Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Jul 2009 at 20:08
Take Zagros' advice. It took me two and a half years of college (at least) to get it into my head how important essay structure is.
http://xkcd.com/15/



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Paul View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Paul Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Jul 2009 at 20:43
Originally posted by Zagros Zagros wrote:

You can write as eloquently as Winston Churchill  or similar but that will not count for much if you don't have structure and technique in your prose, from my experience (I won the university class medal for my programme btw - basically I got the highest grade). 

What I mean is breaking any given problem/question into constituent parts so you know what you have to answer, this applies to both exams and coursework.  Depending on the format (e.g. report or essay) you should also consider where you will answer each problem.  You need a clear understanding of what is required in each constituent part.  For example:

e.g. Essay:

Introduction (no more than 10% of total word count, suggest that it is written after the body)
 - A concise description of the problem in your own words
 - A short context around the problem
 - Briefly, the purpose of your prose
 - What the reader will expect to read in the body of the work (i.e. its constituent sections)

Body
 - Arranged into logically consecutive sections according to the individual problems you have derived from the initial question (e.g. chronologically)
 - help ensure readability by linking one paragraph to the next using terminology such as, "additionally, subsequently, consequently" - do not use terms such as 'also' in stead of 'additionally', 'but' in stead of 'however' and 'as' in stead of 'because' (you get the picture).
 - Keep your content relevant (i.e. ensure you are addressing the problem posed by the question and not padding the essay out with irrelevant drivel, no matter how well written said drivel is and don't repeat yourself).

Conclusion (again usually no more than 10% of total word count)
 - Briefly remind the reader of the highlights in your prose
 - Their implications and what can be concluded from them
 - Sometimes you will be asked for a recommendation - ensure that this is soundly and logically based on the content of your prose (in the body and touched upon in the preceding lines of the conlcusion)
 - NEVER introduce any NEW concepts or facts or anything in the conclusion.


General tip:
- Writing introductions and conclusions is an art and the more you do it, the better you get at it.  Also, the more you use your chosen technique the easier it is for you to analyse qauestions quickly and decide what you are going to write about and how.

- Obvious one but: avoid the use of pronouns (first through to third person), abbreviations (e.g.  don't), qualify all acronyms (e.g. All Empires (AE) - this also becaomes instinctual with practice.

- If you know exactly the answer to any given essay question and answer all the relevant areas where content is concerned and you're wondering why you got an average mark - it is likely because you failed on structure - never underestimate its value in writing academic prose/reports.

I think if you stick to a framework like this (and develop it to your own needs) then you'll do well.

 
 
Great advice for a science essay, it really wouldn't be that appreciated in philosophy though and I doubt much good in English, both have much more literary writing styles.
 
 
Also being able to write an essay is not important to go to uni, uni is where they teach you to write, all they really want to see is the capacity to coherently think in your writing to get in. Eg; potential. When you leave uni you will have risen to the echelons of a poor to middling essay writer. Then if you stick at it for many years after uni you may become good.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Zagros Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Jul 2009 at 21:19
The key is to optimise readability and comprehensibility because I am assuming that Kevin knows his stuff, I just made a suggestion on how to package that stuff.  Though i do take your point, the sectioning has to be a lot more subtle in an analysis for the arts, yet it is not at all negated.

I wasn't prescribing a writing style per se, more a framework approach.  If you have a writing style which is impeccable yet you babble about things incoherently you won't get very far. 

Anyway, I did write a successful law essay with this technique as well as tons of information systems/business oriented stuff.   And I don't know how aware you are from personal experience of the number of people who let themselves down by letting go of such simple common sense things.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dolphin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Jul 2009 at 11:11
Originally posted by Paul Paul wrote:

 
 
Great advice for a science essay, it really wouldn't be that appreciated in philosophy though and I doubt much good in English, both have much more literary writing styles.
 
 
Also being able to write an essay is not important to go to uni, uni is where they teach you to write, all they really want to see is the capacity to coherently think in your writing to get in. Eg; potential. When you leave uni you will have risen to the echelons of a poor to middling essay writer. Then if you stick at it for many years after uni you may become good.
 
 
 
I write English essays all the time, and this structure is probably, in my opinion, more suited to that than a science essay. The reason is, that the structure doesn't dictate the writing style, but without it, writing style is non-existent, as no argument can be deemed successful if it lacks coherence, progression, clarity and structure. Turn of phrase just makes these technicalities come alive and become more literary.
 
Uni has also not taught me anyhting much about how to write essays, I was given a style sheet, but that's about it. I prefer it that way anyway, we don't all need to be autobots writing in the college's favourite style, that would just stifle any vestiges of creativity that possibly were out there.
 
Kevin, you will find out after your first essay submission what your writing style and quality is like compared to the class average, but you probably don't need me to tell you that as each essay and year goes on, you will improve and change your style so much, that the first couple of essays you submit will be almost laughworthy when you look back on them. Unis don't expect genius nowadays, they (especially in first year) want to see you get by, and also imprive you a little along the way.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Aster Thrax Eupator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Jul 2009 at 16:29

I can't really say, but I've read quite a few papers on the internet, and I don't want to sound arrogant, but I'm suprised about what they accept these days. I think you'll be fine, but then again, I haven't even been to uni yet!

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Kaysaar Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Jul 2009 at 23:08
Originally posted by hugoestr hugoestr wrote:

One graduate student instructor gave me the following advice: After each sentence that you write, ask yourself, "why?" And then answer the question. Repeat. One of my highest graded papers were written following this method :)


This is one of the simplest pieces of advice you'll ever receive, but it's also easily one of the best.


Edited by Kaysaar - 13 Jul 2009 at 23:09
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