Prewriting: The Three Questions

Academic essays at university level arenʼt just a form of assessment. Academic essay writing is part of the learning process itself, and the research that you will undertake is a part of your intellectual growth. You are not expected to simply summarize the ideas that you have learned in your module. Instead, you are expected to explore these ideas in the context of your own unique perspective and put forward an argument of your own.

As you begin writing, think not only about what you already know about the topic and what you have learned about the topic in your module, but also what you might learn about the topic through your research and the writing process itself. Use these three questions during the prewriting stage of your next essay to help identify where your knowledge strengths lie, and to identify what questions or ideas you might need to research in order to fully develop your argument.

  1. What did you know about this topic before you began this module?
  2. What have you learned about this topic thus far in this module?
  3. What do you need to learn about this topic in order to form an effective argument?


This post is based upon teaching resources developed while I was teaching at the University of Leeds School of English.

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