Many students find the prospect of writing an essay unnecessarily daunting. It doesn’t have to be because essay writing isn’t all that difficult. The truth is that you can start writing your essay even before your ideas are fully formed.
The essay writing process has mainly three stages – brainstorming, drafting and revising. During brainstorming you explore your thoughts and find the ideas you want to write out. The next step is to work out the best way to express them. Of course, on an examination like the TOEFL or IELTS you can’t spend hours in brainstorming. You will get only around 40 minutes to write your IELTS essay. You get even less time to write your TOEFL essay. That means, every second is invaluable.
Many students can write a good essay if they have time on their side. But on competitive examinations like TOEFL and IELTS, time management is very important. Of course you can’t write an outstanding essay in 30 or 40 minutes. That isn’t necessary either. A decent essay with few grammatical mistakes should get you a band score of 7 or 8.
The Basic Steps of the Writing Process
There are different types of essays. An argumentative essay requires you to support a particular idea or point of view. Sometimes you will be asked to analyze the two sides of a problem. No matter what the type of essay you are required to write, the basic steps of the essay writing process are the same.
On the IELTS or TOEFL test, you cannot choose your topic. You have to write on the topic provided for you. Before you start writing think about the purpose and nature of your essay. Understanding them can help you develop the necessary content for your essay and then structure them accordingly.
Create an outline
Free writing is a great way to get started. At this stage, don’t worry about your grammar or structure. Take out a blank piece of paper and jot down all ideas that come to your mind. Just make sure that you don’t spend too much time on this process. The purpose of this process is to create an outline for your essay.
Once you have prepared the outline, you can start writing your essay. Start with the main idea. Do not repeat the question in your introduction. If you have to, try to paraphrase it. Remember that your introduction is the most important part of your essay. So spend some time and make it as compelling as possible. In the body paragraphs of your essay, you have to further develop the main idea introduced in the opening paragraph.
The introduction is the first part of your essay, but if you feel that you are more capable of handling the body paragraphs first, start with them. While writing the first draft, do not put too much pressure on yourself to make it perfect.
Revise the draft
Once you have prepared the draft, revise it. During this stage, you have to pay careful attention to your grammar, spelling and choice of words. Your choice of words is an indication of your range of vocabulary. As far as possible, choose exact words instead of more general ones. Of course, it is possible only when you have a vast vocabulary.