Essay Writing Checklist

3 Min Read
Essay Writing Checklist

Essay writing can be a little daunting, but with plenty of planning and a checklist to guide you, it can make the job much more straightforward and help you achieve much better marks.

Planning is key to higher grades and creating a logical structure that demonstrates your clear understanding of the subject. Learning how to answer an essay question in a structured way stops you from missing the necessary steps and missing the high marks.

But understanding where to begin is not always easy!

Ready to dive in?
Start Your Free Trial Today

What is an essay?

A formal piece of writing to express information while offering the writer’s opinion. Based on a single subject in an academic situation.

Setting out focused, coherent ideas which develop into an argument or narrative. Defining evidence within your introduction, then your analysis and interpretation of the subject.

Just sitting down at your computer and starting to type isn’t the best approach. Planning the essay can help improve your essay writing and give you much better results.

Essay Writing Checklist

Understand Question / Requirements

Do you fully understand what you’re being asked to do? What is expected and how much depth is required to answer the question.

Failing to understand the question is one of the most common reasons behind a disappointing mark in essay writing.

Common phrases used in essay questions can indicate different expectations.

What Type of Essay

Know what kind of essay you want to write?

There are many different ways to write an essay. For example, narrative, persuasive or even argumentative.Different essay styles referenced below.

Planning and Scheduling

Start planning the moment you receive the essay question.

Make efficient use of the time available.

Set deadlines don’t leave too much work right before the hand-in date.


Think of ideas. What will you write about in the essay? What is your intention behind the piece?

Brainstorming can make you look at the topic and develop a deeper understanding. Also, enable you to recognise the connections between various parts of the subject.

Thesis Statement

A sentence that explains the main idea behind the essay.

Research and Resources

What do you need to find out? Gather relevant material.

What existing knowledge do you possess to help?

Read everything … Articles, online research using websites, notes, course material, interview experts, library and books, to name a few.

Keep track of research for referencing and citing sources.

Google Scholar is a brilliant tool to search by keywords related to your research.

Note theories, information, research and quotes that will be key to answering the question.

Outline Essay

Outline your plan and what you intend to include in your writing.

Make notes of roughly what logical sequence your points and ideas will appear.

Introduction and conclusion – Know where you are starting and how you will finish, excluding anything that doesn’t fit in.

Know precisely what each paragraph will be about before writing them.

Create a list, diagram or mind map to group all your ideas and thoughts in one place.

Critical Thinking

Dont just quote but offer critique of research or gaps you see.

Present Argument

Make sure everything flows together by fleshing out the basic skeleton structure of the essay to ensure a cohesive and clear piece.

Imperative, the essay follows a logical structure to ensure that you stay focused and don’t stray.Continually revise for clarity, consistency, and planned structure.

Quoting, Summarising and Paraphrasing

Essays need quotes or to show you have made yourself familiar with available information and facts that are already published.

  • Quoting – Identical text from an original piece of work.
  • Paraphrasing – Convey someone else’s work in your own words.
  • Summarising – Main points into your own words.

Detailed referencing to source when making a statement of fact, or drawing on arguments or theories presented by others.

Paraphrase wherever possible, and quote if necessary.v


You mustn’t try and present someone else’s work, finding or ideas as your own.

Check citations and references.

Plagiarism checker tools are available to help you make sure you are creating 100% unique work.


Check for grammar, punctuation and spelling errors.

Look for mistakes and typos.

Make use of an online tool like Grammarly, spell checking on your computer or even ask a friend to read through for mistakes. (second set of eyes)

Language and Wording

Academic writing should be clear, concise and avoiding non-academic language.

Academic writing in the forms of essay, dissertation, a thesis should use more formal, unbiased, and include rhetoric.


Evaluate what you’ve written

  • Is the argument clear?
  • Is the structure organised in a logical and easy-to-follow way?
  • Enough examples for your case?
  • Cohesive argument? more cohesive?
  • Conclusion

Types of Essay

Understand the type of essay that you are writing. 

Narrative Essay: Tell a story
Persuasive Essay: Convincing the reader about a particular point of view.
Argumentative Essay: Present evidence in favour of the controversial issue.
Expository Essay: Step-by-step instructions to explain a process.
Descriptive Essay: Detail focused essay.
Problem Solution Essay: Detail a problem to convince of the problem and the solution.
Compare and Contrast Essay: Identify differences and similarities between the two subjects.

Frequently asked questions
Looking for more info? Here are some things we're commonly asked

Yep, like every other website we also use
delicious cookies to track you.