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Should I write in 1 person or 3?

Personally, I think this is up to your own personal preference. Some people think writing in 1 person makes an academic essay informal. You may find it easier to write in first person because its easier to explain what you are trying to say (and reduces the word count). It may be worth asking your module convener but from my experience they let you make the final decision.

Is there a 10% leeway on the word limit?

This is something you would have to check with your department/module convenor. In the law school we don’t actually have a 10% leeway but everyone always talks about having it :’). I like to call it the ‘10% leeway myth’. It wasn’t until I was in my final year that I fully learnt this didn’t exist. Although I was always on the safe side and never went over the word limit. To ensure you aren’t disadvantaged by it I would recommend checking with your department.

Should I use headings?

Whilst I was at school I never used headings. However, once I started university, I found heading extremely useful.

One reason I think they are useful is because it saves on some words. Instead of writing a whole sentence about what your section is going to talk about, you can put a key word as the title and get into the nitty gritty from the get go.

Another reason headings are helpful is because they keep you on track. You know what that particular section of your essay has to be about. It prevents you from going off topic and you can continue to relate your answers to the key word.

Finally, it provides for a nice roadmap. It breaks up your essay and indicates to the reader that the focus of the essay has shifted to a different angle.

If you do not like using a title, another thing you can do if bold the key word in your first sentence of every section. This acts as a heading but doesn’t require it to be separate.

Is referencing really necessary?

Personally, I hate referencing. It takes me more time to reference my essay than it does to write it(!)

Referencing is important for any academic essay to avoid plagiarism. It acknowledges that you have not come up with the idea yourself but you have read someone else’s opinions and are using it to develop your own idea.

The bibliography also gives you the space to include sources that you may have read but did not use in the body of your essay. It shows the reader that you have done wider reading to try and understand the topic in greater detail.

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