Creating an Action Plan for Academic Essay Writing

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Writing an academic essay is much easier when you create an action plan that involves careful planning and preparation. The first thing is to ensure you understand the assignment and what is expected of you. Next, you must choose a topic if a specific one is not assigned. After that, you can work through the following process to develop a plan that guides you through completing an essay assignment.

  • Map out your initial thoughts
  • Research the topic
  • Outline your essay
  • Write the rough draft
  • Proofread, edit and revise rough draft
  • Finalize and write final draft

Develop an action plan for your academic essay by creating a goal date for each step in the process.

Map out your initial thoughts

The next step in creating the plan for an academic essay is putting your initial thoughts to paper, or mapping them out to establish what you already know. Grab a piece of paper, and write down everything that comes to mind on the topic. Do not attempt to edit your thoughts; write everything that comes to mind. Doing this allows you to establish the following:

  • What you know about the topic
  • Aspects of the topic that need more development
  • Whether you need to do additional research

Research the topic

If your topic requires research, start by deciding what types of sources you need. Take notes as you go through sources, and record bibliographic information to avoid plagiarism. You are likely to end up with more notes than you eventually end up using in your paper, but you want to avoid not taking enough notes and finding yourself without enough information.

Outline your academic essay

Between writing down your initial thoughts and conducting research (if necessary), you are prepared to create an outline for an academic essay. The level of details you put into the outline is subjective; the important components of the outline include the following:

  • Focus of each paragraph by creating one section of the outline for each
  • Sources (if any) you intend to use
  • Analysis or interpretation as it is necessary

Essentially, the outline serves as a map as you write the rough draft of your academic essay.

When writing the rough draft for an academic essay, you cannot forget that this is your first attempt at the paper. It does not have to be perfect. Focus more on the content than on the quality of the writing. This helps keep the structure and flow of your thoughts and writing intact. If you stop to edit or revise, it is easy to allow the paper to stray off course. Once you complete the rough draft, set it aside for at least one full day before making any changes.

Proofread, edit and revise rough draft

After a day or two away from your rough draft, you are ready to begin proofreading, editing and revising your academic essay. Being critical as you evaluate your essay is crucial to improving it. By asking yourself a series of questions, you can determine what changes need to be made:

  • Does the essay adhere to a logical structure?
  • Does the essay present a clear understanding with thoughts fully developed?
  • Does the essay contain any information that is not relevant?
  • Does the essay cite information if additional sources were used?
  • In addition, you want to watch for grammar, punctuation and spelling errors. Using a good proofreading tips guideline can help you catch some of the most common errors, or take your essay to your school’s writing center for additional help. Keep in mind you may need to add additional information or remove information included in your first draft as well.

    You may find yourself writing several revisions during this process. After each, set it aside before re-evaluating it. This keeps your mind fresh and makes it easier to spot errors.

    Finalize and write final draft

    The final draft of your academic essay is the final result of the revision process. This is where you tweak things for the final time before handing in an assignment. After you have prepared your final draft, set is aside for at least one day. Then, do a final proofreading, paying close attention to grammar, punctuation and spelling. Finally, check the formatting to ensure you follow the assignment guidelines, when applicable.

    Creating an action plan for writing an academic essay is the best way to ensure you take the steps to write a great essay. Moving through the process, from getting your ideas on paper to completing the final draft, helps mold and shape your essay while making sure it is as perfect as possible. As you work through this process, remember that finishing your essay is not a race to the finish line. Take your time. The more time you give yourself in each step of the process, the more likely you are to complete that step well.