Essays are used to assess students’ understanding of specific ideas and their ability to explain these in their own words. Essays are usually written in a discursive style, bringing together ideas, evidence and arguments to address a specific problem or question.
A well-written essay will demonstrate a student’s ability to:
- understand the precise task set by the title
- identify appropriate material to read
- understand and evaluate that material
- select the most relevant material to refer to in the essay
- construct an effective argument
- arrive at a well-supported conclusion
The essay word limit adds to the challenge by requiring that all of these skills be demonstrated within a relatively small number of words. Producing incisive and clear written work within a word limit is an important skill in itself, which will be useful in many aspects of life beyond University.