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177 of 178 people found the following review helpful
on 16 April 2008
This book is worth its weight in gold for anyone who needs to write essays and I have recommended it to many of my friends. I have always been able to write decent enough essays, getting A grade GCSEs and A/ B grade Alevels, but my undergraduate essays never quite seemed to reach the top marks. I couldn't quite understand this though because I always got top marks for my scientific reports, literature reviews, and exams yet my essays never seemed to go above a 2:1. If I put in a huge amount of effort I would be able to reach a high 2:1, while hardly any effort would get me a low 2:1, I just couldn't seem to break out of it! That was until I read this book.

This book was an absolute delight to read. It is extremely well written, interesting and engaging. To be honest, I just couldn't put it down. It was as though everything clicked into place for me - I could see exactly where I'd been going wrong. The book breaks down the process of essay writing into steps starting from how to think about essay questions, how to make notes and read background material, right through to writing style and proof reading. It is broken down in a way which is easy to follow and apply. But more than just improving your essays, this book provides advise on how to think more creatively - so you can reach those 1st class grades. However good your essays currently are, Greethams book will undoubtedly improve them, and I would reccommend it to every undergraduate!

Before I read this book I always found essay writing a laborious and painful process which I usually procrastinated about and spent many days dreading having to actually get down and do. This book actually made the whole process of essay writing much more enjoyable, and actually much quicker. My essays now take much less time (from background reading to final draft), get better marks, and are more enjoyable to write - what more could any student want. The first essay I wrote after finishing this book got a 1st, and I have never got anything less than a 1st for any essay since.

It is now nearly 2 years since I read this book and I have recently graduated (with a 1st). I deceided to write this review because I feel so indebted to Greetham's book for transforming my academic experience.
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168 of 169 people found the following review helpful
on 3 October 2002
As a teacher and journalist I am frequently asked by students to recommend a book on essay writing. This is the only book I recommend. Not only does Bryan Greetham take you through the steps of writing, he shows students how to think!!
This is something I have not come across in any other book of this kind.
His writing is clear, the structure of the book is helpful, the language is accessible. Top marks from me and my students.
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105 of 109 people found the following review helpful
on 21 February 2002
Okay, this book is excellent for those in higher education, i'm an undergrad myself. The book takes you through the whole process from reading into the question and finding out what it is exactly asking, then researching, planning, and structuring the essay. I cannot emphaise it enough this book is a must for those who want to excel, BUY THIS BOOK!
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on 12 November 2005
Hi I have always been able to write essays but not mater what approach I took to the essay I was never able to get top marks now after reading this book I have been able to improve my essays drastically. This book is pack full of informative and sound advice on how to raise your game and hit those high marks.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 1 January 2008
Having been stuggling to find a good guide to essay writing my prayers were answered when i happen to stubble across this one. 'How to write better essays' is everything you need to know to write better essays from time management, researching, structure etc... Easy to read and filled with practical exercises to help build up your skills. Love this quide!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 11 August 2010
I call this book an essential student purchase because it gives an excellent breakdown of the interpretation, the planning, the researching and the writing of an academic essay but it is not a formula or a bible for writing the perfect essay.

I found that the book is more directed towards courses such as philosophy, sociology, history, business, and other similar courses where essays are based upon an argument or a discussion on concepts. My course is physiotherapy and a typical essay is not based upon concepts but medical facts which can not be argued, just described and evaluated.

However, regardless of what course you do, this book does provide excellent instruction on how to structure your essay, write notes during seminars, research your topic, write with an academic style and how to write introductions/conclusions that won't send your tutor to sleep.

On a whole I would recommend this book as an essential student purchase, but for medical students it is to be taken with a pinch of salt.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 8 October 2007
This is a good book that is packed with useful advice that really makes a difference. We were told to buy a really useless book that was supposed to make you better at legal reasoning and essay writing but it was a total waste of time so I bought this book instead and it has really made my marks better. It was a bit dull in places and there could have been a bit more effort made to make the whole thing easier to follow but the results make it worth the effort of ploughing through it as you end up with all sorts of ideas about how to make your work better. It worked for me.
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41 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on 5 April 2010
Bryan Greentham's new book on the skills needed for good essay writing has received wonderful reviews from almost all other reviewers. I too think the large majority of his guide is very good - his advice that you should analyse the question you've been given then brainstorm your own views on the subject is revelatory and this alone justifies buying the guide.

Unlike many tutors, Greentham has a great deal of empathy with his students and his guidance is reasurring, positive and inspiring. I would argue however that the unrelenting green bullet points and green boxes recapping the points he had made in the previous paragraphs read far less like a novel (as a previous reviewer suggests) than as an instruction manual.

After passing through the interpretation, research and planning sections Greetham reaches writing and it is here where he offered me little help. Like others here, I came to this book as a once successful student. This year, my 2nd at Oxford, I have had a new tutor who has repeatedly criticised my essays, calling them conservative, derivative and unstructured. I now realised that he, as well as many other tutors, look for the argumentative essay - one that requires you to introduce an argument in the introduction, defend it in the remaining paragraphs, and recap it in the conclusion. I do actually agree with Greetham that this is a `restricted and defensive strategy' but it is what is required by many universities and Greetham cannot simply dismiss it out of hand.

While Greetham argues against selective readings of a text, he misreads the Oxford Greats Handbook which writes that 'knowledge of the issues, ability to *construct an argument*, good judgement and sensitivity to the nuances of words, whether in a literary, historical or philosophical context' is what is expected of students (Greats Handbook 2010). Many students will notice that when we read great academic essayists such as Roland Barthes or Thedor Adorno it is this style of essay which awes and inspires us.

What is also frustrating is Greetham's multiple quoting from a `guide' by an `Oxford tutor' which is in fact a small and insignificant section on the website of Harris Manchester College, itself a small and little known Oxford college. Most of Greetham's references in fact come from online, rather than certified printed souces. We can all google `academic essays' and get these resources (which I did in fact do).

Greentham's advice is to examine all the implications of the question in our essay and `after careful measured thought, come to your conclusion'. I am unconvinced that this is what Oxford wants. They, and I would think many other universities, want a mixture of both approaches - one that presents an argument that is reasoned yet convincing, having touched upon counter-evidence on the way. Not once does Greetham present us with an entire example essay or a number of example essays. Surely that would have been helpful.

Thus while I think Greetham's guide is, in some aspects, an essential student buy, I am also going to consult The Academic Essay: How to Plan, Draft, Write and Edit (In-Focus - a Studymates Series) to get to the real heart of the academic essay.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 5 February 2009
The book is quite detailed. It is informative and helpful, particularly for mature aged students returning to further studies.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 9 October 2010
I purchased this book expecting some great insights and suggestions that were not so blatantly obvious. I suppose if you have written essays in the past and are inclined to look at things critically then this is not going to be the biggest help. I found it really tedious to read. It was incredibly long-winded, and I found that many of the points that the author took pages to make, and repeat, and highlight repeatedly, could've been said in a fraction of the space. I think the entire book could've been condensed to a pamphlet and still covered all the points it was trying to get across. For that reason I'm not giving this a high rating. I think any student who juggles family or work along with school will find this book tedious to get through.
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