The term “essay” really originates from Latin “exagium” which means “study”. It is with the same meaning that we use the genre designation today, where an essay can be said to be a study, consideration or reflection on a topic and a problem.
What is the purpose of an essay?
The purpose of an essay is to go into depth with a topic and a problem by seeing it from several (often surprising) angles. But, unlike a discussion, you are not supposed to argue for a particular point of view. It can be difficult to completely understand the difference between an essay and a discussion, because in both genres you may be asked to start with a text, and it therefore seems logical to discuss it as well. But the most important thing about an essay is that it should not become a discussion. One can say that the big difference is that in an essay the topic is in focus, in a discussion the views are in focus.
What should an essay contain?
An essay must include reflection, examination and reflection on a problem. The most important thing is that you remember that the focal point is a problem, i.e. a specific question that you must reflect on. When you have to include texts, films and other material, it is therefore important that you consider how it can give a new perspective on your problem.
How do I get started with an essay?
When you have to start your essay, it is important that you start by examining the problem you need to work with.
When you need to find material to include in your essay, it can sometimes help to create a mind map. It can structure your search and at the same time make you aware of which angles you can examine and reflect on. In the above example, the topic of your essay will be dialects. But in order for you to express yourself on that topic, it still needs to be more specific. In a mind map it will mean that the underlying levels will be clarifications of the subject and the deepest level example (which you will often begin with the reflection circle). Under the topic of dialects, it may, for example, be the question of whether dialects are about to die out or if they live on. Then you find an article that points to one angle, and may even have an example that you would also like to include,
The essay itself is, as previously explained, built up of sections where you examine some parts of the problem. It is again important to remember that it is a study and reflection, not a discussion. Therefore, you still need to examine several angles on the topic.
Again, remember that even though the essay for the exam always contains material that you must start with, it is not enough to refer to it alone. In an essay, you are expected to have more to offer. If you have access to the Internet, it is obvious to find material there, and otherwise you must include what you have from the teaching.