Tuesday, 22 March 2011


During last Thursday's lesson we got our essays back that formed part of our half term assignment and, like many of you, I didn't do too badly in the essays. Millie seems to think that it would benefit you, my fellow students, if I posted my essays on my blog so that you can read them. I must admit that at first I was a little hesitant at doing so but on reflection I think that, as well as hopefully helping some of you, it will help me to improve my essay writing as it will enable me to look back on my essays and make a list of things that I need to do to improve them. I must make this point very clear that these essays are not perfect but I did score quite highly in some of them so I must have done something right! I was planning on rewriting parts of them to make improvements (this desire to do so was only furthered after reading the essay that Millie wrote last night which not only dwarfs mine but, to an untrained eye, seems to be extremely good and much better written than mine) but due to a lack of time I haven't been able to do so, so instead I am going to write below each essay the tips for improvements that Millie left (the pink bits) and  also my comments on what I would do differently and what I think I did well (the purple bits).

I have written each one in a different post so that you can direct your attention to, perhaps, the area that you didn't score so highly in and so that you don't have to read them all at once. If you have any tips about ways in which you think I could improve my essays they would be much appreciated!

Essay writing, and just English in general, has never been my strongest subject and so I have had to work quite hard, and still am at present, to try and improve my writing technique- especially under pressure and time limits.So, I thought I would share with you some of the tips I have picked up from both workshops and lots of practice.

1. How do I approach the question I face? The first thing I normally do, if I am writing on paper, is to scribble all over the question itself and underline the key points like the command words and what the question actually wants for you. For example, in the first essay in the assignment 'Describe and comment upon the effects and solutions to the Acid rain problem' I would have underlined  describe, comment, effects and solutions. The way in which I then appraoched the essay was to describe the effects and then comment on them and then to move on to describing the solutions and commenting on them.

2. Whenever writing essays I try to maintain a similar and simple structure which ensures I do everything that the examiner wishes me to do. I try to include a brief introduction, that presents the issue I am going to discuss, followed by a few paragraphs before finishing off with a conclusion that readdresses the key points I previously mentioned.

3. MENTION CASE STUDIES, even if the question doesn't directly ask you to. According to Nikki, mark schemes often hold back a few marks for the use of case studies as the use of them shows that students really understand the topic and have a wide geographical knowledge.

4. Always try to give both the postive and negative impacts or side effects from the issue/factor metioned, however small and uninfluential they maybe, just remember to weigh up their importance- this is something that I have been trying to include in my essays where possible after I came to the conclusion that geographers seem to concentrate most greatly on one side of the arguement (normally the negatives) without given the other side (normally the positives) a thought. I also think that it can demonstrate that you have really knowledge of the area and have considered the issue from every angle possible. I tried to do this in my acid rain essay and I also did it in an essay I wrote a couple of weeks ago, as part of my revision, on the implications an ageing population has on a countries economy as, although overall the implications are mainly negative, some sectors of the economy may benefit from an ageing population

5. Mention current issues that are in the news. This point is most relevant to the energy essays as the situation is constantly changing and  including up to date information surrounding current issues is a great way to show to the examiner that you are a well informed geographer who keeps track of current issues and who also has the ability to link this to the modules despite the fact that the syllabus and exam is written well in advance.

I can also add to these, many of the general things Millie said about my essays which include writing in third person and, without a doubt the most crucial point, writing succintly! Another thing that I haven't mentioned above is how it is sometimes good to try and link your writing to the other modules we have studied as they all interlink in one way or another e.g when writing about energy patterns mentioned development and some of the population stuff is vital in explaining key differences in energy consumption patterns and sources, a long with predicting future energy mixes.

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