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Another tip: First give the boring/textbook/answer the prof taught you. Then, and only then, go on and be original and say why you think there's another way of looking at it, or a twist that's not in the textbook. That way you minimise the risk the TA will say "this student doesn't understand the answer". You've shown both that you understand what was taught, and can think critically about it too.

Nick, agreed. That's what I was trying to get at with "Third, demonstrate that you have learned to apply the tools and methods of analysis taught in the course."

In an exam situation, too, it's important to remember there are diminishing marginal returns. A one or two paragraph answer that nails all of the essential points will likely get an A- or an A. A two page, 5 or 6 paragraph answer that really critiques and integrates all of the issues will get at most an A or an A+. Is the extra time well spent?

I structure the requirements of the term essay the way you coreect: I ask them to present definitions of the concepts to be used but in their own wprds, to test comprehension. I ask them to look bank newsletter to test aplication. Then, they have to synthetize . And I require graphics.

In fact, an answer to an essay question is more like a newspaper aricle than a scientific article. The headline must be catchy and informative. Each paragraph add to total explanation but you should be able to have a conclusion. You discover more layers as you go throughbut but whenever you stop, you have something complete.

For an essay, or other homework, essential information is date and course (name or number) - in addition to name and student number. Like pagination, I thought this was obvious, but have discovered it is not.

I appreciate this kind of advice, if only to reinforce what should be largely common sense.

However I did have one quibble which is tha your proposed strategy for organizing an essay doesn't work for everyone. FOr myself, I find I need to plough ahead, write some stuff and then reorganized and edit from there. I know they say that planning is greta, but I found it often inhibited me from starting at all. I have no idea how many others face this problem, but just though I'd mention that in my case and I would imagine some others, the "planning approach" didn't work. I would've saved myself a lot of angst had I realized that years earlier before finally discovering a technique that worked for me.

Halfkiwi - I write first and edit and organize later, too.

Perhaps I should have said: writing is thinking.

I like Lewis Carroll on writing, too: 'Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: then stop."

I've read one comment that rather than organizing first ploughing ahead and getting something down on paper. I think this should be thought as a form brainstorming. Brainstorming is where ideas are generated irreguardless of organization, goodness, etc. Maybe brainstroming where thoughts are made concrete and ideas jotted down would be an appropriate step before organizing.

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