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Ten Tips For Writing University Essays On Subjects You Know Nothing About
25 November 2006

What with Schoolies week coming to a close on the Gold Coast, I've become rather nostalgic about my own high school and university experiences. During these reflections, it occurred to me that for the three whole years I was enrolled in various courses at various Universities, I spent most of it not attending class. At first, this depressed me terribly at the idea of those wasted years that could have been better spent taking over the world, or maybe becoming a martial arts master. But in retrospect, I did learn one thing, which does not serve me in real life anymore, but for those poor schmucks still nobly attempting to further their education, I shall graciously share the special technique of... Essay writing.

You see, after my three years at University, during which I frequently grew bored of class and stopped attending, I discovered that the only skill you need to pass seventy percent of university courses (basically, anything that is theory) is the ability to write essays. The interesting thing about this is that you don�t even really need to know anything about the subject to write an essay that will at least get you a passing mark. If it happens to be in an exam environment, these tips will probably even earn you a credit or distinction. Heck, I only attended maybe ten percent of my classes in my second semester, and I still scored Credits and Distinctions � if that isn�t proof that these techniques work, I don�t know what is.

So with no further ado, here's my Christmas present for all those kids that have just escaped the clutches of high school.


Tip #1 - The Essential Catchwords
Use the words 'therefore', 'henceforth', 'validates', 'juxtaposition', 'proclivities', 'connotations', 'denotes' and any variation thereof. These words are what make your essay sound legit, and are only used by university students for the purposes of essay-writing and academic debate. Rarely are these words found outside of an academic context. (Particularly true for the last three).

Tip #2 - Mirror Image Essay Construction (aka cutting your work in half by repeating yourself)
The first paragraph (the introduction), should be exactly the same as the last paragraph, only the last paragraph should contain the phrase 'this proves'. Oh, and you should probably rearrange the words and use a few synonyms so that they at least sound different. Don't want to make it TOO obvious that you're mocking the marking system.

Tip #3 - Mirror Image Paragraph Construction (aka cutting your work by more than half by repeating yourself)
Tip #2 can also be used within each paragraph. The first and last sentence of each paragraph should also be the same. The sentences in-between are just fodder for the word count. If it's a research essay, this is where you rip lines from other academic texts and put references after them. In this case, the second-last sentence should be some obvious observation about the material you just quoted; such as 'By their frequent use of negative descriptive language, it can be deduced that the overwhelming majority of historians possess a heavy bias of dislike towards Adolf Hitler'.

Tip #4 - Them Fancy Words
Big words equal big marks. It doesn't matter if you don�t know what exactly the words mean. There's a good chance that your lecturer doesn't either.

Tip #5 - Only Bibliomaniacs Check Bibliographies
Ninety-nine out of a hundred lecturers will not check the references in your bibliography, despite their insistences to the contrary. Go into a library, find the titles of ten books that sound somewhat related to your topic (or journals or websites), randomly select some page numbers, and write a bibliography. The only time lecturers will crosscheck bibliographies is when you�re doing a PhD or they suspect you of cheating.

Tip #6 - Find the Answer Hidden in the Exam! No studying required!
If in an exam situation and confronted with an essay question about a topic you know nothing about, nine times out of ten you will find hints in later questions. Read ahead and construct a couple of hundreds words of flowery bullshit based on this one scrap of information. This will work because even people who have studied will likely only be able to recall two relevant pieces of information for each question anyway, so you�re halfway there already.

Tip #7 - Verbosity Hides Ignorance
In cases where there is no set word limit, the less you know about a topic, the more words you must write to cover up for your lack of knowledge. If you happen to know a lot about the topic, keep it short, simple, and to the point, saving your energy and concentration for future creative writing exercises - two hundred words at the most. If you hadn't even heard half of the terms in the topic before, you must write at least a thousand words. This convinces the lecturer that there must have been SOME substance in there, even if they can't remember exactly what it was. This is when vagueness is a virtue.

Tip #8 - There is no 'I' in Essay (unless you include the 'stupid' prefix)
Never ever use a first-person pronoun or possessive in an essay, unless the term 'personal opinion' is somewhere in the question. Words such as 'I', 'my' or 'me' chip giant chunks out of your mark every time they are used. This makes constructing sentences much harder, but it makes fluffing up your word count much easier.

Tip #9 - Readability Poor, Expect Further Bad Weather
Under absolutely no circumstances must your essay be easy to read. Sentences must be as long as possible without sacrificing grammatical correctness and contain as many unwieldy and unnecessarily long words as possible. Never use the simplest synonym, even if it is the most appropriate one. This makes you sound smart, regardless of whether or not reading your work is an unpleasant task. The idea is that your lecturer has to read over a hundred of these essays, and the more boring and headache-inducing your writing style is, the more likely they are to skim it and base the final mark on simple impressions. Don't forget, most of those hundred essays will wind up saying the exact same thing, and a surprising percentage of your colleagues will still be writing at a primary school level. Even if the actual content of your essay is inferior to that of your classmates, the lecturer won't feel right giving you a lower mark than someone who never used a word that went beyond three syllables. You don't have to know what you're talking about. You just have to sound smarter than everyone else. The lecturer's subconscious will take care of the rest.

Tip #10 - Jellyfish
This point is just here because I like to end lists on 10.

Ah, there we go. I feel as though I've somehow justified wasting three years of my life in University, which is good, but I also feel sort of bad as I realise that 90% of what I learnt in University can be summed up in 10 bullet points. But the truth needed to be shared. University theory courses are a SHAM.