Essay hacks can make the process of writing a great essay just that little bit easier.
Here are some tried-and-tested tricks and hacks that will help you write a grade-A paper.
14 Brilliant Essay Hacks
1) Use Wikipedia… But Smartly
Our online essay editors will be quick to tell you that Wikipedia isn’t exactly the most reliable or credible source for essay material. However, if you’re a bit smart about it, you can use Wikipedia to get great results.
The hack is to use Wikipedia to find useful sources as opposed to citing it as a source in itself.
Let’s say you’re writing an essay on Kant’s Theory of Freedom. Simply perform a search on the Philosophy of Freedom on Wikipedia and scroll down to the bottom. You’ll be presented with a ton of relevant sources you can then target in your research. Suddenly, finding useful sources became so much easier!
2) Use Google Scholar
Don’t use the standard Google browser for your academic work and essays; use Google Scholar instead.
Google Scholar is an index of scholarly and peer-reviewed publications. By using the Google Scholar search engine, you limit the search results to academic works and, as such, avoid reams of irrelevant or unreliable sources.
Unfortunately, many of the articles that are indexed on Google Scholar are not free to access; however, it can help you find the titles of articles and papers that will be useful for your essay, and you can subsequently look them up in your university library.
3) Conduct Backward Searches
So now you’ve got with the program and are using Google Scholar instead of the standard Google search engine, you can exploit this essay hack to its maximum potential by using the backward search function.
Let’s say we’re writing an essay on the theme of time in Romeo and Juliet.
Simply perform a search on the topic of interest, “theme of time in Romeo and Juliet,” and you’ll be presented with a list of clickable links you can reference to find content and articles that have cited that source.
This provides a really useful way of finding sources that have been used for similar research purposes to your own, which can be useful for two main reasons. First, it can help you find additional information sources. Second, it can give you confidence that a given source is relevant to your paper.
4) Use Google Scholar’s Cite Function
So, we’ve already established that Google Scholar is a great search engine for finding useful information sources for your paper. But did you know you can also use it to help you compile your bibliography?
Simply click on the cite button (currently denoted by double quotation marks) that appears below the listing you want to add to your bibliography, and a new window will open with a range of citation options.
Choose the style guide you wish to follow, and the correct citation format will be generated for you. You can then copy and paste this into your reference page.
5) Manage Your Time Using the Pomodoro Technique
Don’t attempt to write a full paper in one sitting. In addition to being incredibly mind-numbing, focusing on one task for a long time without taking a break will lead to poor output.
Set a timer for 25-minutes. Once that point is reached, take a five-minute break from your computer or reading to stretch your legs, get something to drink, use the bathroom, or fix yourself a snack.
After five minutes, get back to work for a further 25 minutes.
Rinse and repeat until your essay is finished.
6) Nail the Introduction
The introduction is quite possibly the most important paragraph in your entire essay.
If you get that right, you’ll be a long way toward your goal of writing a great essay.
For practical tips to help you master the fine art of the introduction, check out our guide to writing an introduction.
7) Remove Distractions
If you’re easily distracted by applications such as Facebook and Instagram, try using an app that will prevent you from accessing the sites you regularly waste time on so you can concentrate on your paper. ColdTurkey (for Windows) and SelfControl (for Mac) will block the websites you list so all distractions are automatically removed.
8) Nail the Thesis Statement
If you want to write an essay that impresses, make sure you write a succinct and compelling thesis statement. Check out our guide to writing a thesis statement for further information.
9) Work in the Cloud
There’s nothing worse than your computer breaking hours before a deadline or a power cut, meaning you suddenly lose all your work. Work in the cloud using applications such as Google Office Docs 365 or iCloud and you’ll never have to run the risk of suddenly losing all your work again. What’s more, using a mobile device, you can work from anywhere in the world at any time.
10) Make Zotero Your Best Friend
If you’re a student, Zotero could well be the best essay hack you’ll ever discover. You can use it as a Firefox plugin to find and store references or as a Word plugin that automatically interacts with all the information you have saved in Firefox to insert automatic citations in your paper at the click of button. Another click, and Zotero will even create your bibliography for you. Referencing and citations simply couldn’t get any easier.
11) Use Evernote to Keep Track of Things
If you’re writing a large essay or performing an extensive study for your dissertation or thesis, you can use Evernote to take ongoing notes, keep track of your diary, and store important articles that you may want to access at a later date. The app automatically updates on an ongoing basis, so everything you write will be stored in the cloud. What’s more, as Evernote automatically syncs the stored content across your devices, you can quickly and easily pick up where you left off, even if it’s on a different computer.
12) Avoid Meaningless Words
If you want to ensure your essay reads well and comes across as scholarly and succinct, make sure you avoid using meaningless words in your paper. Check out our guide to words you shouldn’t use in an essay.
13) Talk, Don’t Type
If your typing skills are not quite up to the mark, Dragon voice recognition software can help you to efficiently translate your thoughts into text. Simply dictate the words you want to use, and they will be translated into text-based language. Dragon can be particularly useful when you want to quickly and easily get your thoughts down in text form.
14) Ask Someone to Peer Edit Your Paper
When you have spent hours working on an essay, you may no longer be able to see the wood for the trees. That’s where peer editing can come in handy. Ask a friend or family member to peer edit your essay and he or she will be able to spot any errors you’ve missed, provide constructive feedback on how it can be improved, and even point out any areas you haven’t taken into consideration.
Got any useful essay hacks to share? Leave a comment and let us know.