A lot of my juniors have been asking me how is it that a good tutorial is written. Well, it’s very simple, as long as you are ready to put in a few hours. You may find it boring, but do it, for this is going to get you some great skills that you can use for the rest of your life, apart from the marks that you get at the end of semester. Someone who has been writing tutorials for a while now, and puts a lot of effort every time, namely Srishti Aishwarya shares her recipe for writing good tutorial essays.
As law students and future lawyers, we are supposed to possess good research and writing skills and to inculcate that skill, the system of writing projects exists in the National Law schools. Under this system, students are supposed to delve into and write a project with a word limit ranging from 3000-5000 words on the assigned topic in every subject. However, it is generally seen that students, instead of researching and writing their projects, adopt short-cut techniques of copy- pasting, academically known as plagiarism.
To counter this problem, in NUJS, the system of tutorials was brought into the picture as an alternative to train students to write and research better. Since the word limit ranges from 800-1500 words, the emphasis is not on quantity and plagiarism does not pay off as well.
Mine was the first batch in NUJS on which the tutorial system was applied. Initially, it was all Greek and Latin to us. All we knew was that we had to write an essay every week after doing thorough research on the topic and submit it. Since our seniors were not acquainted with the system either, we were left with no assistance. With just a conceptual idea of how tutorials are supposed to be, we started writing tutorials every week, forging and improving slowly by learning through our own mistakes.
There are some basic rules that should be taken into account while writing tutorials.
Basic guidelines for writing tutorials:
The first thing to have off pat while writing a tutorial is to understand the topic and the question. Writing without due comprehension is likely to cause blunders. As the system in NUJS stands, a topic is given every week on which the tutorial has to be submitted on the subsequent week.
On being provided with the topic, your first day should be consumed in analysing the question by breaking it into parts and trying to understand what it wishes to convey. If the topic seems indiscernible, the respective subject’s faculty should be consulted in order to have the question expounded. One thing to be kept in the psyche is that you have to focus on the point the professor wants you to emphasise on.
After making sure that you clearly understand the question, your next course of action should be to start searching for the books mentioned in your reading list for the topic. Extra research may be done if you are not satisfied with the suggested reading material. Generally, the reading material is vast, this, however, does not mean that you need to swot every detail. You need to skim through the material and search for what is relevant. While reading and understanding, take down the important points. This should be followed by the mental process of figuring out an appropriate structure for the essay.
The process of understanding the question and going through the reading material will consume three to four days. Once your notes are ready and you have a structure in mind, start drafting your essay. Remember to compile all the relevant points and importantly, make sure that your essay deals with the question posed adequately.
Drafting is followed by editing repeatedly, ensuring that you have addressed each and every aspect of the question. When you are done with editing, you are done with your essay!
Precautions to be taken while writing tutorials:
Writing an essay can be a cake walk if you deal with it in a proper fashion. Many people look at the question, a day or two before the submission date and begin writing the night before the submission day. This hurry-scurry not only ends up producing essays that shows explicit signs of haste (such things can be concealed in a project of 5000 words, but not in a tutorial essay) but also essays that fail to answer the question posed adequately. Either the essay ends up stressing excessively on a certain point or tries to cover everything and anything related to the topic. This will lead to disastrous results.
Another point to be taken into account is the word limit. You need to restrict yourself to the word limit, however hard it may be. The trick in such situations is to strictly focus on the question asked and restraint yourself from writing everything related to the topic. Crossing the word limit may fetch you negative marks.
You need to write your essay in a regimented pattern. You just can’t come up with an essay of 1500 words by whirling a magic wand or by burning the midnight oil the night before the submission day. Do your essay step by step, making sure that you deal with the question adequately. Such step-by-step process will also endow you with the time to revise your final copy of the essay. It will also give you the contentment of having given your best along with ensuring decent result up to much an extent.
Way to deal with tutorial discussion
The tutorial as a process does not witness an end just after you finish off your essay. Tutorial discussion on the topic is followed by submission of the an essay. Tutors who are students of 4th or 5th year moderate the discussion. Students are supposed to discuss their respective essays and present their viewpoint in the tutorial discussion. Since, tutorial discussion carry 5 marks, there are many people who tend to speak just for the sake of speaking. It causes a negative impact. The substance in what you say matter more than how much you say about the topic. You should raise relevant points that help in the discussion instead of speaking up just for the sake of it. This will surely have a good effect on your tutorial marks. Also, collaborate, don’t compete. Usually, that will ensure good performance for everyone.
Thus, just spend some time on your tutorial and think it through and you can ace it!