1. Know your subject

“Knowledge is power.” Sir Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626)

“To be conscious that you are ignorant is a great step to knowledge.” Benjamin Disraeli

You will probably have been studying a unit in lessons and then your teacher asks you to answer an essay question on it. He or she will be able to judge your understanding based on your response. You’ve just spent several lessons studying the topic; you probably had time to discuss the question in lesson time. It’s all fresh in your mind. Grab your pen, start writing!


To plan effectively and write successfully, you need to be confident of your subject material. Read your notes and texts you’ve been given before you start writing your essay.

  • Does it all make sense?
  • Are there any gaps in your knowledge which you need to research?
  • Do you have all the case-studies you will need?
  • Can you sum up the main points you will include in your essay?

Make some brief notes to help you answer the set question. Remember to make a note of where you found your information…so you can find it again!

You’ll refer back to your notes when you are writing your essay to check for details or use a quote, but you shouldn’t be finding out new things when you are in the middle of writing your essay: you’ll end up wasting time and re-writing it.

TOP TIP: save time and stress by preparing properly. Knowledge is power!