Essays

Get started on your essay with these quick-start resources.

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Access the assignment calculator  Assignment Calculator

Download the Essay quick start guide

Essay Quick start guide

Download the essay drafting tool

Essay drafting tool

Download the essay checklist

Essay Checklist

Download the academic integrity checklist

Academic Integrity Checklist

Working in a group?

Learn more about teamwork skills

Need more help?

Use the resources below OR Find someone to help


Purpose of essays

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Download guide to understanding the purpose of an essayUnderstanding the purpose of an essay Learn about the purpose of an essay for university and beyond.

Understanding the question

Analysing the question (video, 2:35) from Western Sydney University Library.

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Download the full guide to analysing the assignment questionAnalysing the assignment question (full guide) Tips and information about understanding your assignment question.
Download the quick guide to analysing the assignment questionAnalysing the assignment question (3-min guide) Quick tips and information about understanding your assignment question.
Download the checklist for analysing the assignment questionAnalysing the assignment question checklist Use this checklist to make sure you've done everything you need to understand your assignment question.

Download the common task words guide

Common task words Learn what common assignment task words mean.

Download the guide to understanding what the marker is looking for

Understanding what the marker is looking for Learn how to interpret the marking criteria (or rubric) for your assignment.

Researching & reading

Researching

For most of your assignments, you will need to do some research. This means searching for scholarly information related to the topic in order to find out what researchers have said about the topic and to develop your own ideas.

Ask a Library staff member for help in finding scholarly sources for your assignments.

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Access the Successful Searching TutorialsSuccessful Searching tutorials These Library online tutorials will take you through five skills that are important for finding and using information effectively.
Download the guide to types of sourcesTypes of sources Understand the different kinds of sources that you can use for your assignment.

Download the critical thinking guide

Critical thinking Practical resources to develop your skills in critical thinking.
Download the APPEAL source evaluation worksheetAPPEAL source evaluation worksheet Learn how to evaluate each source you find, to ensure that the sources you use are scholarly sources.

Reading

Many students struggle with reading for university, but it doesn't have to be an uphill battle. You just need to figure out what you need to read and why you need to read it, then use the strategies in the resources below to help you become a more effective reader.

Interactive tutorials

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Library Study Smart Tips for effective reading: Pre-reading. Female student in library Use pre-reading techniques to decide whether to spend time reading a source.

Library Study Smart Tips for effective reading: Selective reading. Male student. Use selective reading techniques to quickly find the information you need.

Library Study Smart Tips for effective reading: Active reading. Female student with books. Use active reading techniques to understand and engage with what you read.

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Download the guide on the why, when and what of readingThe why, when, and what of reading Learn why reading at university is important, when you should read, and what you should read.

Download the guide on how to read effectively

How to read effectively Here you will find practical strategies and tips for effective and efficient reading.
Download the guide on organising your readingOrganising your reading Learn how to keep on top of your reading workload.

Download the guide on note-making for critical thinking

Note-making for critical thinking Examples of note-taking systems to help you read and think critically. Find more resources on note-taking in Attending lectures and tutorials.

Download the reading worksheet

Reading worksheet Keep a copy of this resource to guide your note-taking whenever you read for university.

Link to reading graphic organiser

Reading graphic organiser Use this interactive tool to take notes on the main points as you read.

Using what you find in sources

Download the guide on writing evidence: summaries, paraphrases and quotesWriting evidence: Summaries, paraphrases, and quotes This quick guide explains how to use ideas from sources as evidence in your writing.

Download the guide on summarising

Summarising Learn how summarise ideas from sources.
Download the guide on paraphrasingParaphrasing Learn about paraphrasing ideas from sources.
Download the paraphrasing toolParaphrasing tool This handy interactive resource will guide you through the stages of effectively paraphrasing the ideas you read.
Download the guide on quotingQuoting Learn when and how to use quotes in your writing.
Download the guide on referencing and citationReferencing and citation Learn about the importance of attributing the ideas appropriately to the sources. To learn how to use referencing styles, visit the Library Referencing and Citation Guide.

Organising & expressing your ideas in an essay

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Download the guide on essay structure

Essay Structure Learn how to structure your essay.
Download the guide on essay toneEssay Tone A helpful guide to getting the tone of your essay right.
Download the essay drafting toolEssay drafting tool This handy interactive resource will guide you through the stages of drafting your essay, section by section.

Using paragraphs, sentences & words

A lot of what we do with language every day is spoken. While speaking is important at university, most of your assignments will require writing, so developing your writing skills for the academic setting is essential. If you can get good at writing at university, you'll also be more attractive to future employers.

The University also offers free workshops on academic writing, referencing, and grammar. These are open to all students enrolled at Western Sydney University. You can find out more information on the Academic literacy and grammar workshops page (opens in a new window).

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Download the guide on paragraph structureParagraph structure Learn how to structure paragraphs in academic writing.

Link to guide on sentence structure

Sentence structure Learn how to structure sentences in academic writing.

Link to 3 minute guide on sentences

Sentences 3-min guide Learn how to find and fix common sentence structure problems in your writing.

Download the 3 minute guide on punctuation

Punctuation 3-min guide Learn how to properly use the most common forms of punctuation.
Download the guide on grammar: tense and subject verb agreementGrammar - Tense and subject-verb agreement Learn how to appropriately apply grammar in academic writing (including tense and subject-verb agreement).
Download the guide on grammar: articles and determinersGrammar - Articles and determiners Learn how to appropriately use articles and determiners in academic writing.
Download the 3 minute guide on purpose and language choicePurpose and language choice 3-min guide Learn how to choose the right kind of language for your purpose.
Download the guide on vocabularyVocabulary Tips for using appropriate vocabulary in academic writing.

Editing & revising

Once you've done all the research and written enough words, you'll probably feel like you've finished. But don't submit it yet! It's still a draft and probably won't be your best work until you've read through it a couple of times and made corrections.

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Download the guide on word processingWord processing Tips on using a word processor to write and format your assessments.

Download the guide on editing

Editing

Learn a 5-step approach to editing your work.
Download the editing checklistEditing Checklist Keep this interactive resource handy to guide you through the editing process.

Download the academic integrity checklist

Academic Integrity Checklist Use this checklist to see if your work meets academic integrity expectations.

Finishing & submitting

Make sure you don't sell yourself short by handing in an inferior version of your assignment. Check out these tips for improving your final draft and handing in the best version of your assignment that you can.

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Download the guide on proofreadingProofreading Learn the importance of proofreading and how to do it successfully.

Download the proofreading checklist

Proofreading checklist

Keep this interactive resource handy to guide you through the proofreading process

Download the guide on learning from feedbackUsing Turnitin Learn how to use Turnitin to submit your assignnment.

Learning from feedback

When your assignment has been marked, don't just look at the mark you got, but read through all the feedback and reflect on what you could do to improve next time.

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Link to guide on learning from feedback

Learning from feedback

Learn the best strategies for using feedback on your writing to improve your work (see p.5).