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How to Get Your Essay Writing Started

To get your essay writing started, you should analyse the question and check the marking criteria.

Analysing the Question

  • The key to analysing the question is identifying the process, topic and limits.
    identifying the process – look for the process word in the essay title, question or topic
    (examples: evaluate, justify, explain, discuss)
  • identifying the topic – it is the concept, main idea or phenomenon you will write about
    (examples: Describe the development of corporate social responsibility, Compare and contrast two schools of thought of…, Discuss the degradation of professional ethics…)
  • identifying the limits – determine the scope of the question, title or topic
    (example: in “Discuss the Degradation of Professional Ethics in the Corporate Employment Setting,” you should limit your discussion within the corporate employment setting)

Example question:

“Discuss the Degradation of Professional Ethics in the Corporate Employment Setting”

Key questions:

  • What is the process?
  • What is the topic?
  • What are the limits?


  • The process you need to carry out is to discuss.
  • The topic is professional ethics, specifically its degradation.
  • The topic scope you are limited to in carrying out the process is to discuss the degradation of professional ethics within only the “corporate employment setting.” Do not go beyond it.

Checking the Marking Criteria

Ask your tutor or lecturer for the marking criteria. It is a set of criteria that describes how marks are awarded to your essay. It also shows what your tutor is looking for. From such criteria, you will get many ideas on how to start your essay writing task.

Essay Writing Guidelines

You can also ask your tutor for essay writing guidelines. It includes a description of the standard format for essays the school expects from you, such as the font size you should use or the inclusion of a cover page.


Gather great ideas on how to write your essay and get your writing off to a good start. You can get excellent ideas by analysing the essay question and following your school’s marking criteria and essay writing guidelines.

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