A+ Essays: A Structured Approach to Successful Essay Writing

A Deep Dive Into What Makes a Good Academic Essay

NOTE: This course is included in the site-wide bundle which unlocks every course in the Academy.


Many students become anxious at the prospect of having to write an essay or term paper. They don't understand the conventions for organizing essays, and they don't know how to manage their time and the writing process.

The result is that many students enter college without the skills necessary to succeed simply because they were never properly taught how to write essays.

This course aims to overcome this problem by offering a systematic framework for essay writing that removes the mystery and presents a clear path for moving from idea to outline to completed first draft.


The most efficient way to improve your essay writing is to focus on the key structural features that define successful writing at the essay level. An essay can be written beautifully, but if it's missing key structural elements (like a well defined thesis statement), it will fail as an essay.

This course provides a set of concepts and tools for thinking about, analyzing and fixing problems with the structural elements of your essay.


This course contains 33 video lectures totaling over 4 hours of viewing time.

Students in this course will learn how essay writing skills are related to "deep reading" and "deep thinking" skills, and why this is increasingly important in today's world. You will also learn how standards of good essay writing are related to standards of good written communication more broadly. You'll learn why academic essays are structured the way they are, how essay style is related to essay structure, how to approach the writing process, and how to organize your time so that you can actually get the work done before the deadline.

But the centerpiece of the course is two detailed case studies. In one of them I take a short student essay that has some serious problems, analyze the structural issues and rewrite that essay from start to finish.

In another case study I take an actual essay assignment from an actual college class, that I don't teach, and take that essay from initial brainstorming and researching to a detailed outline to a completed first draft with a reference list and inline reference citations.

At the end of this course you will feel more confident about your ability to successfully complete essay assignments in school, and you will have a greater understanding of the skills and habits of successful writers.


  1. Welcome and Introduction
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  2. Why are Writing Skills Important?
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