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Tips for writing your first university-style essay

13 November 2023
Photo by Wulan Sari on Unsplash
Photo by Wulan Sari on Unsplash

Having reflected on writing a university-style essay, it’s time to share tips for writing your first university-style essay. There are several differences between A-level essays and university essays, making your first few to be a challenging transition. However, this blog will give you the advice that you need to get them done.

Get familiar with the topic

Firstly, refamiliarise yourself with the content. This could involve rewatching the lecture (if available), going through your notes and reading the set readings on the topic, all while making notes that are relevant to your specific essay question. Use this information to gather basic ideas and bring wider readings on the topic.


Motivation for a long essay can be challenging, especially if you want to start in advance before the pressure of the upcoming deadline hits. There is advice suggesting not to listen to music while you work, however, living in a shared space in Cathays, it may be easier to focus with some background music to drown out noise. I prefer music that I don’t have to think about, so I don’t have to keep changing the songs or being distracted by lyrics. For this, I recommend minimal techno or classical music. Playing music can also help put you ‘in the zone’ as you know that when you’re listening to these songs, it’s work time.

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Write in a consistent location 

Having a consistent location where you do a particular task can help you stay motivated and on track as you know that, when you are in this space, you are working. Personally, I’ve spent many long nights at the Arts and Social Sciences Libary (ASSL) working on essays. You can find out about some of the best study locations within Cardiff University here.

Get someone else to read through your essay

Once you’ve completed the first draft of your essay, consider asking a friend or family member to read through the essay. Not only does this have fresh eyes checking for spelling mistakes and errors that you may have missed but it also helps ensure the clarity of the essay. If someone who does not study your course can understand the claims and arguments that you’ve made, it’s much more likely to be a successful essay.

Reward yourself

Always have something to look forward to after you’ve completed your essay. Plan your reward for after the essay has been submitted, giving yourself this treat will help keep you motivated to get everything completed. For instance, plan a movie night, a brunch with your friends or simply some time to let your hair down.

Writing essays can be challenging but by staying motivated and being kind to yourself, you can not only get them done, but get them done well. Using these tips can help you on your way to achieving your academic goals and making the most of your degree.