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Ramesh Kugendran

March 1st, 2023

Comparing and contrasting: academic coursework vs. A-level/IB essays

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Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Ramesh Kugendran

March 1st, 2023

Comparing and contrasting: academic coursework vs. A-level/IB essays

0 comments

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

The shift from secondary school to university can be very tricky, and writing can be no different. While much of your education has been geared towards helping you to achieve the highest possible marks on your A-level or IB assessments, the demands of academic coursework at university are indeed very unique. So, in order to improve your chances of getting the best grade possible, it is crucial to comprehend these differences. To gain the best advice for easing the transition between academic coursework and A-level/IB essays, please continue reading below.

Feedback and Support

The level of support is very different from secondary school, which is one of the key differences I discovered. The same is true for writing and assignments at university as your degree of independence rises. While in school you might be told exactly what to write to make the markers tick, in university you almost have free reign. You are given a marking framework, but it is up to you whether you seek assistance and guidance after your assignments. When it comes to academic coursework, you must be proactive in seeking feedback because no one will be pursuing you for it at university. Don’t be afraid to ask your lecturers, class teachers, or academic advisors for help; they are there to assist you, so take advantage of them! In order to see what a good essay looks like, if you are having trouble, you can always ask to be shown any exemplar essays from previous cohorts or even your peers!

Wider reading

Towards the exam season, secondary school teaches you to incorporate additional reading and outside knowledge into your essays. Nevertheless, in order to get the best grades at university, you must incorporate wider readings into your academic coursework from the get go. Academic coursework instead compels you to comprehend ideas and apply them to contemporary society. Thus, it is important to get this into practice prior to coming to university! It is no longer sufficient to simply regurgitate the material from the textbook when it matters most.

Citation and Referencing

The levels of citation and referencing in academic coursework are another significant distinction. While you might need to cite sources in A-level/IB essays, usually with the author’s name and the year in brackets, academic coursework also calls for a bibliography and in-text citations to make sure everything is adequately referenced. This is crucial because it guarantees that people are given due credit for their work, ideologies and points of view. While all of this may seem overwhelming, do not worry yourself too much because many degree programmes include first-year lectures on how to reference and cite before you are required to submit any coursework. Consequently, you will be adequately ready for any summative work!

Word count and length of essays

When I was told I had to write a 2,500-word essay, I thought to myself, the longest A-level essay I had ever written was only 1,500 words! However, in all honesty, don’t fret about it. You might occasionally be asked to write 5,000 words, 8,000 words, or even more words. But to your surprise, you will frequently exceed the word count and then scramble to trim your essay down to the required length. So, despite the fact that essay lengths will have significantly increased, you become accustomed to them.

Conclusion

Overall, the transition can appear difficult at first, but after the first term, you will become normalised to the demands of academic coursework. However, if you take note of the noticeable differences mentioned above and are willing to change your writing style, you will undoubtedly succeed in your assignments. If you have any questions about anything I’ve written or if you’d like me to write about a certain topic, please leave a comment below.

About the author

Ramesh Kugendran

Welcome to my blog! I'm Ramesh Kugendran, a student of International Social and Public Policy at LSE. As someone who is passionate about Social and Public Policy, I am excited to share my thoughts, insights, and experiences on this blog. Thank you for stopping by and I hope you enjoy reading my blog!

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