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How to Write a Psychology Essay

How to write a standard 2:1 psychology essay

Writing a university-level psychology essay does not differ that much from writing any other type of essay. Keep in mind that there are, however, certain differences about a psychology essay. There are several basic rules that put you on the right track for writing a competent essay using a scientifically-sound point of view: the steps you need to follow are planning, research, analysis of the gathered material, after which you can proceed with writing the actual essay. Once you have written an outline and the essay’s main body, you might review or edit your work, in order to correct any inconsistencies or provide extra information where it might be required. The steps of writing an academic psychology essay will be discussed below:

Remember that there are a variety of aspects which contribute to your understanding of how to write a psychology essay. The first paragraph of an essay should contain the main idea that will be discussed, drawing the reader’s attention to the issue at hand. Maintaining an interested audience can be achieved by using certain formulas: one way to draw attention is by mentioning statistically proven facts or other relevant data to underline the importance of the issue your essay is focused upon. Not only will this help the reader focus, but it will also provide a sense of urgency to the problem under discussion, thus strengthening your credibility.

Pre-planning is very important in writing a good essay. If you want to do a good job, avoid being superficial: take time and do some thorough research into the matter before attempting to write anything. Be wise; you do not want to simply scratch the surface of your subject, so spend some time researching some of the related issues to the one you centre your essay upon. This will allow you to offer a more personal opinion regarding the subject of your paper. However, if you have a deadline to meet, make sure you do not spend too much time performing additional research; the best way to do that is by planning each step in terms of how long will it take to perform it. Consider how long it takes to gather scientific materials, how long it will take to write the essay, and don’t forget that you might have to review it afterwards. Time management is very important when you have deadlines to meet!

Research. The best place to start your research is your University library. Most universities have very comprehensive databases of psychology literature. Moreover, they have access to specialised academic databases such as PSYCHNET or PSYCInfo. Once you gather the required material from these sources, you may want to access the internet for additional writings, such as academic websites like http://scholar.google.com and http://www.allpsych.com, where you can find professional articles and abstracts about the desired field of psychology. Remember that there are also professional association websites that offer access to publications that might prove useful, such as the British Psychological Society and the American Psychological Association.

Another hint is to highlight any important piece of information, especially if it shows a particularly interesting perspective regarding your essay’s subject. Highlighting makes it easier for you to remember ideas, organise your essay and reference your sources.

The outline. Many students tend to skip this step, disregarding its importance. An outline of the essay helps you get organised and focused on the topic. A well-written outline makes sure you do not skip any area of your subject and that you keep your information together. Furthermore, it helps you to create the essay in an organised manner, because you can expand on every sentence of the outline, using it as a road map: now you can access your references and explain in detail each of the main points of your discussion.

Writing your paper.  How to write a psychology paper is similar to other academic papers and has several sections, each used with or without appropriate subheadings, depending on your preference:

  1. The introduction contains facts and figures that draw the attention to the problem discussed in your essay. Moreover, the introduction specifies why you consider the subject important and what makes your approach unique and interesting. For example, think about a study of depression in adoptive parents, and how it is similar to the post-partum depression experienced by new mothers. Citing the lack of information regarding this similarity will trigger the reader’s attention to your paper, and underline the importance of your work.
  2. The research questions are enlisted afterwards; note that the literature review type essays and qualitative studies contain only research questions, whereas quantitative studies offer their own research hypotheses.
  3. The literature review section contains what current academic literature has to say about your topic and research questions. At the end of this section, you should add your own critical analysis too, based on the cited sources.
  4. The conclusion recaps all your presentation and answers any remaining questions regarding the subject. Ideally, it should leave no stone unturned regarding the discussed topic, and offer a proper conclusion to your discussion. Use specific formulas for emphasising the fact that you have reached that conclusion, such as “to summarise”, “to conclude”, “this being said, we can conclude that…”, “it is safe to say that…” and so on.


Format. Most psychology essays are required to be written in the format established by the American Psychological Association (APA), or that developed by Harvard. Many educators take into consideration the format of your paper when they grade it. This way, an ‘A’ essay might receive a ‘B’ or even a ‘C’ for not respecting the requested format.

Proofreading. It is a sensible piece of advice to recommend using an updated spell check when writing an essay. Make sure you re-read your essay in order to spot and fix any mistakes or unclear sentences. In order to make the best impression, make every word and sentence meaningful.

Differences from other types of essay. Unlike the essays written on topics belonging to mathematics and physics, psychology essays allow a greater freedom of expression regarding the chosen topic. The author may sustain a certain point of view and argue in its defence, based on the available academic literature. Furthermore, it might be easier to include related issues in your research, allowing you to reveal a broader academic perspective in the field of psychology.


Are you struggling with the perfect psychology essay? Academic Sciences is able to provide custom essays and model answers which can help you manage your psychology essay writing and get the grade you want. We have a variety of solutions available to you to suit both your academic level, time frame and budget. Have a look through our academic guides and if you are still struggling, consider giving us a call or placing an order for an essay on-line.  

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