History, geography, economics and social sciences, and of course philosophy - whatever bachelor degree you do, once you'll have to do an essay. To help you to succeed in it, we asked Caroline Binet, teacher and author of "The written tests and essay composition", to give a piece of advice.
Interview by Audrey Steeves
What is the first thing to do when addressing the issue?
Caroline Binet: First, take the time to understand it. Too many students rush and start writing even though they have not tried to define the terms of the subject and to delimit the area of research. If we have 4 hours to complete a test, I think we need to spend at least 1 hour to do this work for understanding, definition of the concepts and organization of ideas before starting to write. That is the safest way to avoid off-topic.
What distinguishes a good copy from a bad one?
The student who has understood the subject, made it accountable and succeeded in expressing his personal thoughts based on his knowledge and examples, produces a good copy. In a good copy, by the end of the reading, the examiner has a feeling that he has met the student and talked to him. For student, that means to be organized, clear, and aware of the direction. Above all, it is a well-written copy. On the contrary, a bad copy is one, which merely paraphrases accumulated knowledge without logic and consistency.
We often hear that we must first handle the introduction and conclusion, is that true?
It is true because judging by the beginning and the end of the essay, we can assess how the student organizes his thoughts, and this is very important. But it's also relevant for the rest of the content. That's naïve to think that the examiner won't read beyond the first and the last sentences and just skim the main body. So do not disregard a good sequence of ideas, the relevance of examples, the explanation of concepts and so on.
Is it possible to practice how to write a good essay?
Not only is it possible, but also necessary because the essay is primarily a writing exercise. At the beginning of the year, students often receive a methodology for writing a course essay, so I think that is pretty enough. But learning is based primarily on the regular practice, what means doing exercises - no matter how good a student is already at this. Therefore, I can only advise candidates to start to practice with student books topics to find the right rhythm, the right style, which will let your thoughts flow naturally. To sum it up, the essay is a conventional method and original thinking.