- ChatGPT can be an incredibly useful tool for writing essays but you shouldn’t solely rely on AI to do all the work.
- ChatGPT-3.5 is only trained on data until April 2023 and can only help with text unless you pay for ChatGPT-4.
- To start writing a killer essay using ChatGPT, it’s important to choose a topic, create an outline, find reliable sources, and establish your writing tone.
- As a reminder, ChatGPT should be used as a guide and not as a solution, and human edits are necessary to avoid plagiarism.
In the months since OpenAI made it available to the world, ChatGPT has already shown how useful it can be. It’s arguably safe to say that ChatGPT may play a significant role in the future of learning. Of course, it has to be used with the right level of safeguards. The most important consideration is not to let it do all of the work for you.
Can you let ChatGPT write your entire essay? Absolutely. Just don’t rely on it to always be accurate. The reality is that even with that truth, AI tools are revolutionizing how quickly an essay can be written. The problem is that ChatGPT shouldn’t be the only thing doing the writing. Not only should you be coming up with the prompts, but you should be humanizing and editing the results.
With these initial thoughts in mind, let’s dive right into how you can write a killer essay using ChatGPT.
Understanding ChatGPT Limitations
Before diving headfirst into using ChatGPT to write a killer essay, it’s important to understand some ground rules. First and foremost is that ChatGPT is only trained on data until April 2023, so anything that has happened after that fact would need to be incorporated on your own. The second consideration is that ChatGPT can only help you with text unless you pay for ChatGPT-4, where you can also create text to images.
Another big factor is that in order to help ChatGPT write the ideal essay, you need to make sure you are thinking through your prompts. When using ChatGPT, a prompt is an instruction that you give to ChatGPT through text in order for it to develop and produce your request. A prompt can be as simple as “Please provide with me 10 dad jokes”, or something that is two paragraphs long and requires lots of additional data.
Ultimately, in order to receive what is by all definitions a killer essay, you will need to give ChatGPT some very direct prompts about what you want.
Choosing a Topic
The first thing you can do with ChatGPT is to utilize it to help you discover exactly how to approach your essay topic. This might look like a ChatGPT prompt that says something like “Act like you are a college student writing an essay about why remote work is better for employee’s productivity. Can you please help me come up with 5 catchy topics for my essay?”
With these five topics identified, it’s now up to you to help narrow down to the one topic you think presents the best opportunity for creating your killer essay. In this case, the first option “The Freedom Effect: Unleashing Productivity through Remote Work Independence” sounds like the best topic that matches our initial query.
Now that your topic is identified, it’s time to have ChatGPT work up an outline that you can review to make sure it’s hitting all of the goals you hope to achieve with your essay.
Creating an Outline
Okay, now that you have your essay topic identified, it’s time to take the next step. If you’re a blogger (cough cough), writing a blog post may not require an outline in every scenario. Even for this article, an outline wasn’t terribly necessary. For better or worse, this author has written more essays in his years than he wants to remember.
However, if you want to write a killer ChatGPT essay, an outline is essential. Any outline, large or small, will make sure you are getting all of your main points included. To help create a quick outline with ChatGPT, you could try a simple prompt like:
“Act like you are a college student. Create an outline for an essay with 2,000 words on the topic of the freedom effect: unleashing productivity through remote work independence. Make sure you are including an introduction paragraph, at least 5 main points and their respective arguments as well as a conclusion paragraph. Please look to include the thesis statement at the end of any introduction paragraph.”
What’s important to note here is that ChatGPT wants more information so you can make your prompts as detailed and lengthy as you feel is necessary. There is no right or wrong length. As long as you can get what you need from your prompt, it’s long enough.
Finding Your Sources
One of the most important aspects of any essay writing is choosing the right sources. Generally speaking, source material will help you substantiate your thesis by providing data and talking points that help prove your argument. If you choose the wrong sources, you could not only end up not proving your point, you might end up with an essay that proves the opposite point is true.
This is why choosing the right prompt to find sources is so critical. The wrong prompt will just give you any source ChatGPT first identifies as being relevant. However, you don’t want to be relevant, you want accuracy and legitimacy. Anything less than this and you could find yourself with an essay that veers off into nowhere-ville.
Given that, a prompt around the lines of: “Create a list of at least 10-15 sources that can be used to research this topic and provide factual evidence to help prove the point of the essay. Please make sure to only suggest sources that have a strong history of being accurate, relevant, and legitimate.”
Find Your Tone
While many people might skip this step, if you truly want a killer essay, this is important. One of the best ways to use ChatGPT is to help it understand your tone and writing style. To achieve this, you can feed ChatGPT a few of your best essays or writing posts for some background. If you choose articles that best identify with your writing style, results can improve dramatically.
So, your prompt might sound something like “Please analyze the text from the following articles and use them to help identify my tone, vocabulary, sentence structure, and voice.” You’ll now copy and paste your best writing work beneath this prompt and then let ChatGPT go to work.
You might want to try this with a few writing samples to make sure ChatGPT really has a strong sense of your style. The results are important as they will help with writing both essays and other requests in the future.
Time to Write a Rough Draft
With the topic, outline, tone, and sources all covered, it’s time for the main event. Having ChatGPT writing your essay, or at least a first draft, is the culmination of using all of the above information to create a killer essay.
However, before going any further, you have to consider what your final essay prompt needs to be. The good news is that you have any number of prompts available to create this killer essay. The bad news is that each prompt can turn out a different result, so tread carefully before proceeding.
The Right Prompt
In this case, you might have a prompt that looks a little something like “With the identified tone, vocabulary, and sentence structure identified, please write a 2,000-word essay on freedom effect: unleashing productivity through remote work independence. Please make sure you are using the previous outline, sources, and thesis statement as the basis for the essay.” You can also add something here if you have a very specific audience in mind. So, adding an extra sentence like: “Keep in mind my target audience is twenty-somethings who are first entering the workplace.” will help you further refine ChatGPT results.
Keep in mind that after a certain word length, ChatGPT will prefer to create the essay by section. This is actually a good thing as you have a chance to check each section right away. The slower you go with these steps, the better results you will receive. You can even update your prompts by section to help tweak the next part. In other words, the prompt above works for the introduction and the first main point in the outline. You can then tweak the prompt slightly for the next main point and so on.
Make Your Edits
The edit section of your killer essay is undoubtedly the most important step. More importantly, this is the section that is the most tricky. While you could have ChatGPT write this entire essay word-for-word, you know that’s not the right idea. You could end up being accused of using AI to do your work. This will be very bad at work, but for a college student, it could mean a failing grade or expulsion.
Instead, focus on using ChatGPT as a guide and not as your solution. This is why you want to take the results from ChatGPT and start making edits. These edits could be grammatical in nature or rewriting entire sections.
Ultimately, your killer essay from ChatGPT should provide the right structure and direction for you to make edits and fill in the blanks. Of course, you can always ask ChatGPT to help rewrite a section. By doing so, you can try a few different approaches to prove your thesis. Once sections are rewritten by AI, you can then go and make your own additional edits.
Edits Are Vital
Ultimately, the biggest takeaway is that ChatGPT should not be writing your essay without any human edits. Remember, without your edits, you could very much be open to plagiarism claims. Hello Turnitin. Rest assured ChatGPT isn’t perfect and is definitely capable of writing something super smart that doesn’t come close to proving your thesis at all.
Revising Your Edits
Okay, so let’s assume now you have taken the time to properly go through your killer essay and made numerous revisions. Now it’s okay to go back to ChatGPT and ask it to help re-edit sections of your essay that you might want to shorten or write in a different style. You can even use ChatGPT to help paraphrase.
The point in this part of the essay writing is that ChatGPT is now using your own words to make changes and not the other way around. This allows you to better utilize ChatGPT results with minimal edits rather than trying to verify the full body of text results from the first round of query answers.
If you want to really be bold, add your completed edit back to ChatGPT and ask it to revise. Use a prompt like “I am providing you with an updated essay around the subject of freedom effect: unleashing productivity through remote work independence. Go ahead and edit to make it sound more relatable to the twenty-something audience. This means you can edit the style and tone to help make it more relatable while maintaining a professional tone. Please make sure you are looking for any grammatical errors that can be fixed as you edit.”
When you use ChatGPT to write your killer essay, it’s actually all very straightforward. You don’t have to be a prompt engineer to help get great results. What you do need to consider are a few important factors. The first and most important factor is to be very specific in your request. How specific is up to you and the subject, but the more specificity you can provide, the better.
The second biggest consideration is to make sure you ask ChatGPT to rework any section of your outline or first draft results until you have what you want. The good news is you are going to need to edit everything anyway. However, you want to make sure you are editing something that is already in a good place. This will make it much easier to go through to humanize your essay and stick to your outline. The good news is you can ask for as many edits until you have the exact result you need. So feel free to keep trying until you get exactly what you want out of ChatGPT.
The third and final result is to make sure you are proofreading your work. This speaks very clearly to the edit section above. There is still little question that ChatGPT is still an imperfect system. It can and will hallucinate results at times that are completely unrelated to the subject at hand.
At the end of the day, ChatGPT is a wonderful and fantastic essay-writing partner. The caveat with any ChatGPT essay is that you shouldn’t upload or use it verbatim. If you do, it’s asking for a world of trouble. Whether you write for a blog, are a student turning in a paper, or writing up a recommendation at work, ChatGPT can be a very useful tool.
The important thing is that you don’t turn in work that isn’t your own. Actually, the most important thing is that you don’t try and take credit for ChatGPT results. Using ChatGPT to help guide you is definitely welcomed, but what you hand in should be your hard work full of edits and rewrites.
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