How To Understand Essay Topics

How To Understand Essay Topics

Everyone’s been there: You sit down and look at your essay topic, only to realise you just don’t understand it at all! Luckily, this is not a reason to panic. It happens, and you can work though it. Here’s how you can figure out that essay topic, and get writing.

Note The Key Terms

The first thing to do is go through the essay topic with your highlighter, and start looking for key terms. These will tell you how to structure and approach your essay. Here’s a few you should look out for:

  • Argue: This is asking you to take a stand on a topic. What do you think, and can you back it up with evidence? Consider other possible viewpoints too.
  • Compare: Look for the differences and similarities between the two subjects you’ve been given.
  • Analyse: This wants you to really get to grips with the subject, and look for relationships that may not be obvious. For example, what events lead to the start of World War 1? Some of them aren’t as obvious as they appear.
  • Evaluate: As well as analysing, you’ll be asked to apply a judgement to your findings. Remember, you’ll need evidence to back up your ideas.

Talk To A Professor

If you’re struggling to understand your topic, try talking to a professor. They’ll often set aside time to talk to students, so plan a time to meet with them, and explain to them what you know about the topic, and where the gaps are. They’ll help you fill those gaps in, and get started on writing your essay.

Generate Ideas

To get started, try generating some ideas. Look at how others have written about the topic at hand. Have there ever been any controversies? Do most writers give the theories credence, or are they mostly questioned in print? These will give you clues as to how to approach your own essay. Of course, you can go against popular opinion if you have the evidence to back you up.

Create A Thesis Statement

Before starting to write, try putting together a thesis statement. This should show the direction in which your essay will go, and what you think about the topic at hand. Don’t worry too much about sticking to it. If you find good evidence later on that goes against your thesis statement, don’t be afraid to rewrite it. After all, you won’t be including it in the final essay, it’s just to help you stay on track.

Write For Your Audience

Think about the reader of your essay. You’re looking to convince them that your view is the correct one, when it comes to your essay topic. How are you going to convince them of this? If they’ll hold a different view to you, you’ll need to have a lot of research to back up the points you’re making.

These tips will help you get to grips with that essay topic, and really write an essay that will get you top grades. Give yourself the time to plan and research, and you’ll get there.