You need to read over your work for a final time before you submit it. Initially this will be to check your spelling and grammar, but you must also consider carefully the most common mistakes made by students answering essay/problem questions, which are costly in terms of marks. These are:
- The student fails to answer the question or neglects part of the question. Usually every fact given in the question will be relevant so consider each in turn and look at whether they give rise to any issues.
- The student fails to address what is being asked of them – for example, they are asked to ‘discuss’ an issue but they present a one-sided-argument
- The essay is poorly structured, perhaps missing an introduction or failing to reach a conclusion based on the evidence presented
- The arguments are weak, not supported by evidence/reason or authority, or are non existent
- The materials used are not properly referenced or no supporting material is cited
- The student has included too much background or description and not enough critical analysis
What is required will depend on the assignment set and the university you attend. In most cases, your lecturer will assess your work for its content, presentation and quality of analysis.
Content - Your assignment should demonstrate accurate knowledge of the area under question. It is an opportunity for you to show your understanding of the key concepts, debates and authority surrounding a specific issue or series of issues. The content must be relevant to the precise question asked, and referring explicitly to the question throughout the assignment will help you stay focused.
Presentation - Your assignment should show evidence of careful planning. You should present your concepts, ideas and arguments clearly, concisely and precisely, and ensure they are backed by authority or other appropriate evidence. Terms should be used carefully and the meanings they are being given should be defined explicitly where necessary (and you also need to define any acronyms or abbreviations where they are first used, e.g. “…as defined by the Human Rights Act 1998 (“HRA1998”)”. Your grammar, spelling and punctuation should be accurate and your essay should be organised into logical paragraphs, using an appropriate structure.
Quality of analysis - Your lecturer will be looking for both description and analysis; therefore, instead of merely describing the rules or concepts in any one area, you should attempt to analyse what they mean and their implications, and demonstrate that you are aware of the wider factors influencing the rules or concepts in that area. Aim to show you are aware of the debates at stake. Material should be carefully and critically considered (‘critically’, of course, does not only imply negative evaluation) – but consider the definition of any descriptives used in the question (see above). Aauthority or evidence must support all assertions. Ensure that you use a logical train of argument.
(Adapted from Source: Open University : Assessment Guide 1, W100, Appendix)Back to the Essay Help Guides