From start to finish, it takes a lot of brain power and critical thinking to tackle an essay assignment, whether in school or in business. From the time we learned to hold a pencil and write, essays in any form are part of our basic education and it’s not by chance. Though it may not be easy, essay writing skills are skills that will last us a life time and take us further than just making the grade.

Knowing due dates is one of the best ways to manage your time and pace yourself; the day you dot your last “i” shouldn’t be the same day you turn in the assignment. Checking in with the official assignment requirements via the rubric or syllabus can offer more guidance and set expectations. This is where personal deadlines, goals, and outlines come in handy. Ordering thoughts, setting chronological order, summarizing paragraphs to build on later are good ways to keep the process smooth and as stress free as possible.

Once you’ve lain the groundwork, the research can begin. Choosing reliable sources is essential not just for your grade but for the information you will retain for yourself. A persuasive essay will be more open to author bias, but any good writer will know the value of showing two opposing sides with equal critique and allow the facts to speak louder than opinions. On the other hand, expository pieces demand almost complete neutrality and equates to a challenging assignment.

Need to brush up on your essay skills? Take a look at this infographic for more on the best practices for essay writing and how to make your work stand out among the rest.

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