define critically examine essay

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Define critically examine essay

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For parents and guardians. Preparing your child for university Should your child go to university? What to do if you're worried about your child at university. Explore what different task words mean and how they apply to your assignments. Task words and descriptions. Analyse : This term has the widest range of meanings according to the subject.

Make a justified selection of some of the essential features of an artefact, idea or issue. Examine how these relate to each other and to other ideas, in order to help better understand the topic. See ideas and problems in different ways, and provide evidence for those ways of seeing them. Assess : This has very different meanings in different disciplines. Measure or evaluate one or more aspect of something for example, the effectiveness, significance or 'truth' of something. Show in detail the outcomes of these evaluations.

Compare : Show how two or more things are similar. Compare and contrast : Show similarities and differences between two or more things. Contrast : Show how two or more things are different. This often means using the process of analysis to make the whole essay an objective, reasoned argument for your overall case or position.

This often means making the whole essay a reasoned argument for your overall case, based on your judgments. Critically evaluate : As with 'evaluate', but showing how judgments vary from different perspectives and how some judgments are stronger than others.

This often means creating an objective, reasoned argument for your overall case, based on the evaluation from different perspectives. Define : Present a precise meaning. Describe : Say what something is like. Give its relevant qualities. Depending on the nature of the task, descriptions may need to be brief or the may need to be very detailed.

Discuss : Provide details about and evidence for or against two or more different views or ideas, often with reference to a statement in the title. Discussion often includes explaining which views or ideas seem stronger. Examine : Look closely at something. Use examples and evidence to support the points that you're making. Don't run through a whole range of different examples and pieces of evidence and theories and then at the end say the point that you want to make about it. Make the point first and then use the evidence to support it.

My third guideline for writing an essay is to use a plan. Once you've done all your reading, once you've done all your research you need to step back from it and decide what you're going to say. Come up with your main line of argument, but plan your essay before you launch into the actual writing of the essay.

That means that you need to decide exactly what your key points are. So you need a logical sequence of key points that actually build up your argument. It's really important when you've arrived at your key points, it's really important to express them in complete sentences. One of the mistakes that I often see students doing, and one of the things that makes plans a bit problematic for a lot of students, is that when they're coming up with their outline for their essay they just have a list of subject headings: First I'm going to be talking about this, then I'm going to be talking about that, and then last of all I'm going to talk about that.

And actually that's not a very good plan, because when you go down to write something you don't know what you're going to say. You know what you're going to talk about, but you don't know what you're going to say about it. So the most important thing about the plan is to decide what your main points are and to express them in complete sentences -- not just what are you going to talk about but what are you going to say about it?

Once you've got that sequence of key points expressed in complete sentences you should have a pretty good summary of your essay. And that should be able to stand alone as an answer to your essay question. Once you've decided on your sequence of key points, then you can start to flesh out your plan by listing the evidence that you're going to include for each key point.

What examples are you going to draw on? What pieces of evidence or empirical work or theoretical work are you going to use to actually support each of those key points? Once you've actually done that you've got a really good framework for writing your essay: you know what your main argument is, you know what each key point is that you're going to use to support that argument, and in turn you know what key bits of evidence or examples or theories you're going to use to make each of those key points.

One final point about the plans. If you look at your plan and you find that you've got nine, ten or even more key points then think again about whether they really need to stand separate from each other as different points. In an essay, and even in longer essays like 4, word essays, you'll usually only need to have a handful of key points.

Remember the main objective is to support the main line of argument that you want to present to the reader. That doesn't mean that you have to cover absolutely everything that you've read. It may be the case that there will be material that you've read that really isn't relevant to the point that you want to make in this essay - so decide what the best pieces of evidence are to support the points that you actually want to make in this essay.

My next guideline for writing an essay is to make sure that you give it to someone else to read. It's really important to get a second opinion on your essay and sometimes when you've been working on an essay for a long time it can be really hard to adopt a fresh objective stance and look at your essay. So find someone, maybe a friend that you can bribe to read your essay, maybe a family member, long suffering flat mates - whoever you can. Get someone else to read the essay and to try and extract the main points.

So that would be a good sign that you've accomplished what you wanted to accomplish in the essay. OK, my final guideline for writing an essay concerns originality. You'll probably see in most of the assessment criteria for essays in different subjects across the university that originality is one of the markers of first class essays.

Can you show originality and flair in the way that you write your essay? Do I just say what my opinion is about the subject matter? Originality in an academic essay is all about the way that you interrogate the material in front of you and the way that you put the material together. So, regarding the first of those points, if you are dealing with evidence, examples, theories, other people's writing - question it, adopt a critical standpoint, evaluate it, don't just accept it at face value.

Regarding the second point -- about how you put ideas together and how you put your points and evidence together in your essay -- that's a really important opportunity to show your originality. But it's about how you put the argument together.

That's where you can really show your originality. Have you taken these theories, these different bits of evidence, the different readings that you've done, have you put them together in an interesting and innovative way to answer the question?

That's how a student shows originality in an essay!

EXAMPLE CONTRASTING COMPARING ESSAYS

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