Planning an essay : s3 : University of Sussex

A good essay plan makes the most of your essay material by helping you to organise the content of the essay before you begin writing. This guide shows you the key steps in preparing and planning an essay effectively.

This template provides students with a framework for planning an argumentative essay

Essay planning is such a critical factor in writing a paper. Because of this reason, it cannot be ignored, nor can one take shortcuts in this planning process. In line with this, the following tips regarding essay planning can assist any student writing a paper:

1. Carefully align the paper’s topic with the length, breadth, and depth requirements of the assignment. For example, one would not choose the topic “ideological differences between the Democrats and Republicans” if the assignment requirement is a 5-paragraph essay. For this length and breadth, essay planning would involve the need to narrow down the topic to one ideological difference between the two political parties.
2. Conduct the required research and brainstorm all ideas related to the topic. Consolidate these ideas into 3-5 subtopics.
3. Prepare an outline and organize the contents of the paper before writing begins. If several subtopics are included, begin with the most important towards the least significant aspect. Many students who struggle with how to plan an essay skip this important step, and the result can be the lack of coherence and fluency.
4. Follow the outline as the body paragraphs are composed. Each paragraph should address one subtopic and contain a compelling topic sentence followed by relevant details. The paragraph length will obviously depend on the nature of the subtopic, and some are more complex than others. However, be mindful that a paragraph does not usually exceed 8-9 sentences. If you find that you need to go beyond that, the subtopic should be divided into multiple paragraphs with solid transition sentences for good flow.
5. Consider composing the introduction and conclusion after the body paragraphs have been developed. You will have a much clearer picture of your overall thesis once the subtopics have been fully developed.
6. Be less concerned with the length of an essay than with its content. Your thesis must be developed in a compelling way, and that is your top priority.

When students are unsure about how to plan an essay, they would be well-advised to refer to the tips listed above which provide a plan of action for effective writing.

However, by making a simple plan for your essay you stand in a better place to come up with a fine tuned paper that will help you in garnering the marks that you need. Planning an essay is paramount and should not be ignored during the writing.


Planning an IELTS essay – the 10 minute solution

Advice on planning an IELTS essays: try planning vocabulary and examples and not ideas

What often differentiates a good essay from a poor one is a structure. The structure needs to be both logical and clear. What might be obvious to you often remains only implicit. Make it as easy as possible for the reader to discern the structure of your essay. If you have problems doing this, then it may mean that your essay does not have a structure. Structuring an essay basically comes down to planning an essay. Below are some ideas about planning your essays.