At this point in the semester, it’s common for many LSE students to start receiving feedback on the first essays they’ve written. For first year students, this time is often filled with a mix of anticipation, excitement, and foreboding. It’s completely understandable because we all want to excel and do well at university. However, no matter how it turns out, it’s important to glean the right things from your essay feedback. Doing this will allow you to improve for your next essays and move forward in a positive way.
First off, don’t stress too much about your numerical grade. Of course, I’m not going to say your grades don’t matter, because they do. But focusing too much or solely on the number misses the point. It’s about the feedback you receive that led to that grade, so if you are looking to improve that number, it’s essential you focus on the oral and written feedback you receive from your professors and class teachers.
If it’s not already required, you should attend office hours with your class teacher to walk through their feedback with you. In the class I teach, this is required after the first essays. While the written feedback is extremely helpful and useful, it’s equally necessary to have your teachers explain to you how they arrived at their conclusions. These conversations are a vital supplement to the feedback forms, and I highly recommend you have them. This will help you grow immensely as a student. Your teachers are more than happy to help, and it’s part of their jobs!
To use these sessions productively, have questions prepared. Ask them how you can improve your arguments, analysis, focus, range, structure, and writing. One of the things students have the most trouble with is expressing themselves, especially in their first years. If that sounds like you, ask your class teachers how you can enhance your writing. For one, using shorter and more concise sentences will always help. Avoid waffling whenever possible. It doesn’t help your writing or argue your points.
And if you ever have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out and ask. There’s a whole LSE community waiting to extend a hand and help you with whatever you need!