Third year Communications student Sarah Pollok explains how (not) to get an easy A on your essay. Illustration by Hope McConnell.
The clock reads 2am, and you’re not sure how you ended up here… again. Surrounded by empty coffee cups, Cadbury wrappers and a word document that has had a word count of two for the past month. The two words may or may not be your name. With the deadline hours away, the time for sending procrastination-themed gifs to your best bro is over. So take a deep breath and prepare to smash out 1648 words of pure brilliance. Let’s begin.
Teachers may have told you that the key to a great essay starts with a concise, clear introduction. Well, you’ll show them just how wrong they are. Why write about one argument when a vague, loosely worded essay question allows you to write about them all? Boom. They’ll know you mean A+ business before they’ve even started reading.
Now, for most papers, lecturers will share a list of ‘suggested texts’ to support your assignment, a trap that far too many promising students fall into. This assignment isn’t about your tutor's understanding, but your irrefutable genius. Everyone knows that pros don’t need training wheels and you, my friend, are a pro. Those same dry theorists will be cited by your 299 peers, therefore by purposely avoiding every single advised reading, your essay will be a tornado-like breath of fresh air. Originality is key. The more obscure, the better.
Now for the writing. The crucial principle? Be vague. Actually no, be amorphous. Your introduction should be a maze of confusing fuck-wittery that, once lured into, leaves your tutor thinking ‘what the hell does that even mean?’. You have got to sound so unbelievably smart, so indubitably perspicacious, that it makes them question their very academic ability. This is done by complicating what could be succinct. Don’t use ‘offer’ when you can use ‘adduce’, or ‘communicate’ when ‘promulgate’ is an option. If in doubt, thesaurus every second word and choose the most complex substitute. It may not be an exact synonym, but by this point, you will have perplexed your marker far beyond questioning you.
Here is the real question: why write your own words, when you can fill up that word count with the intelligent things that published scholars have already said? By including long, un-paraphrased segments, not only do you get the greats to write your essay for you, but it proves to the tutor you can do a reading AND select important information. Sounds like a win-win to me.
Once you’ve finished writing, it’s time to head to the library and read up on APA 6th referencing. A resource all AUT students have a bit of a love-hate relationship with… just, without the love part. Like, at all. This pointlessly painful referencing system causes many students to turn to websites such as ‘Citethisforme’ or ‘BibMe’ that automatically reference your resources. But even this takes valuable time, so why not use an entirely different reference like Numbered Citations (1) instead? We all know professors secretly hate APA 6th too, so they’ll surely thank you in the end.
While some students use ‘Grammerly’ to catch grammatical errors that Spell Check misses, they unknowingly sabotage their chance to hit an A grade! It’s no surprise that as a teacher, there is nothing that makes your tutor fizz more than a chance to correct someone. So leave in those sneaky typos and add some of your own to give your tutor a red-pen induced ego boost.
Conventional advice suggests finishing an essay with more than ten minutes to spare, in order to have time to re-read, or possibly discuss it with the tutor to check for gaps or suggestions. What these people don’t understand is that, like a piece of coal, the pressure of an all-nighter combined with confusion on what the assignment is actually about turns your sub-par assignments into scholastic diamonds.
Okay so you got a C+, but did they really need to suggest in the comments that you get academic writing help? Where would I even go for— oh… AUT’s Academic and Study Support? But still, I’m not made of mone— wait, they’re free? Well, I guess one or two sessions couldn’t hurt…