Essay Crisis: How To Gain Additional Essay Marks And Maximise Your Grade

When writing an essay, it can be hard to come up with a solid argument; the result is inevitably lacklustre content. While the quality of your thesis lies largely in your ideas and understanding of the subject, there are ways to grab a few marks in other areas.

Here are some surefire methods to boost your essay mark.


Punctuation and articulation

Punctuation is hugely important in adding flow and structure to your essays. Used correctly, it will impress any marker by highlighting your strengths as a writer. Rarely does an essay utilise perfect punctuation and, more often than not, common and easily rectifiable mistakes are made – mistakes that can be overlooked when focus is placed too much on content over quality.

Make sure not to overuse commas. There are many examples of essays where commas are thrown in without any need. There are many helpful resources to assist tightening your use of this device – check them out!

Learn how to use that notorious bane of the student-age writer: the semicolon. Once you’ve got the hang of it, you’ll find it simple to integrate them into your work. Semicolons can connect closely related ideas and act in place of a full stop; they are not replacements for commas except in list-related circumstances.

Articulation is also incredibly important when it comes to your thesis. Even if you feel your points are weak, explaining them well is far better for your result than if you argue strong, innovative concepts poorly. Be specific, use short sentences and avoid dancing around your points. Make sure your work reads punchily and the confidence in your writing will shine through, gaining you those extra marks!

Remember to be clear on your view in the introduction and use the body of the essay to argue that position. Everything must link back to your argument.


Engagement with theory

Theory is vital in university essays. You must always include a bibliography with a submission of writing, whatever the word count. But while having theory is one thing, engaging with it effectively quite another.

Don’t be scared to argue against a theorist. Examiners want to hear your opinion! If you disagree with a statement, take a stand and explain your view in a clear and concise manner. Avoid using theory only to support your own points. If essay writing is a process then markers want to see how you reached your verdict; to do this, they must see a range of hypotheses and why you did or did not agree.

Remember: theory is not a word count booster, but a device to strengthen your argument. Always critically engage with any quotes you incorporate, and make it clear why you have included that reading in your piece.


Referencing and bibliography

Consistent referencing in bibliographies and footnotes can increase your marks easily. Referencing should be easy; you already have the formula, you just need to put the time in to make sure you’ve applied it correctly.

Most universities have their preferred citation style, whether it’s MHRA, MLA, APA or Harvard. Get to know yours! That being said, you shouldn’t be marked differently so long as you consistently use a particular style.

There are many great online resources that will reorganise and correctly cite your work, so try them out.


Word count

There is a general rule of thumb at universities when it comes to word count: you can go 10% over, but no more. Any more and it will be reflected in your mark, so keep it concise.

Different universities deal with word count misconducts individually. Some will deduct a certain amount of marks, others will only mark up to the word count and anything following will be ignored. Keep this in mind.



Essay plans can be a lifesaver when you’re unsure of your content. Even if your argument is lacking, a plan forces you to express it via a clear and solid structure.

How your case manifests and is argued in an essay is half the battle of good writing. Ensure you format it correctly. Have a case statement in your introduction, dissect it in the main body and tie the whole thing up with a solid conclusion. Make sure your conclusion has a definite position and avoid leaving it open-ended. It’s there to show the marker your final stand on the question and texts.

The reason why marking criteria encompass all facets of the essay writing process is because it is exactly that: a process. Prove you’ve put the work in. Even if you feel your argument is weak, you could still impress and secure some extra marks.


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