Essay planner workshops

For too many students, writing essays is a distressing experience and despite the volumes of information, websites and ‘how-to’ books out there, essay writing remains one of the most dreaded aspects of senior high school and university study. 

In 2008, the Research Den, in partnership with the Co-op Bookshop, the UNSW Bookshop and the NSW Writers’ Centre, toured Australia on an Interactive Book Tour, running essay writing workshops in universities and high schools. Here’s what we found out: 

  • Students who get to university as competent essay writers say that they were given specific advice on how to write an essay in school. 
  • Those who miss the core skills development in senior school fumble through the HSC and (if they get to university), do the same in the tertiary setting. 
  • It’s embarrassing for students to admit to their teachers, parents and friends that they struggle with essay writing. 

Based on The Night Before Essay Planner or High School Essay Planner, an Essay Planner Workshop will be tailored to your students' specific needs and provide them with a simple and effective way of approaching their essays. 




  • How to understand the essay question
  • The special role of verbs in essay questions
  • Why we use brainstorming and grouping ideas
  • How to find your own point of view
  • Tips on using the library and the Internet
  • How to reference in an essay 
  • Why referencing matters
  • Taking notes that help you write
  • What is the structure of an essay?
  • What happens if you don’t have a structure?
  • What does a great essay look like?
  • How can you edit your own work?
  • What about exam essays?


Students' Responses to Essay Writing Before and After a Workshop

Before the workshop I felt ...

Now I feel ...

Help me!Heaps better. I feel like I can attempt my first essay now
Okay, but neede help in certain areasMore confident
Lost, unsureConfident and willing to give it a go
Pretty awfulWant to see if this actually works
UnsureMore confident
Yikes!Good, thank you
A little blindEquipped
Awful - wanted to quit universityBetter. Just need to stick to basics
Really nervousBroke down any nerves
Uneasy. Scared to startI have a starting point now
Uneasy, not confidentAll good!
Hesitant, lost, no directionEasy to understand
A bit overwhelmedMuch more relaxed
A little worriedmore confident
Not very confidentReady to start my essay!