Many of my clients have made this request. I explain that when assigned an essay, it is tempting to read a sample essay to help get started. However, there are several reasons why this is not a good idea.
Reading a sample essay can give you the false impression that you know what you’re doing. You may start to think that you can just copy the structure and ideas of the sample essay, without contributing much of your own work. This is a mistake. Every essay is different, and what works for one essay may not work for another. Reading a sample essay can lead to plagiarism. When you read a sample essay, it’s easy to accidentally plagiarize, even if you don’t mean to. This is because you may not be able to distinguish between your own ideas and the ideas of the author who wrote the sample essay. The sample essay can also discourage you from writing about your own ideas. When you see a sample essay that is well-written and well-organized, it can be easy to feel like your own essay will never be as good. This can lead to procrastination and a decrease in motivation.
So, what should you do instead of reading a sample essay? Brainstorming ideas for your own essay are a good first step. This can be done alone, with someone in your family or with friends. What do you want to write about, and what are the main points you want to communicate? Do some research so that you can develop your ideas beyond what you can recall from memory. Once you have the idea and have gathered enough information to cover all the points you intend to make, create an outline for your essay. This will help you to organize your thoughts and make sure that your essay flows smoothly.
You are now ready to write a rough draft of your essay. I place extra emphasis on the word “rough.” Don’t worry about making it perfect at this stage. Just get your ideas down on paper, then choose one or two trusted individuals to give you feedback on your draft. This can be a friend, family member, or teacher. They will help you to identify any areas where your essay can be improved. Be careful about inviting too many people to offer suggestions about your essay. Everyone has an opinion. The essay can easily become someone else’s work when trying to accommodate too many opinions. The focus on revising your essay should be to make sure it is clear, concise, and error-free. Just remember to be original, make efficient use of your words and proofread your work carefully. By following these or similar procedures, you can write a great essay without the use of a sample.