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.