The Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners is the leading international organization for trust and estate professionals.
Friday, March 22, 2019
Is the STEP Canada Diploma for you?

Courses covering the major areas of estate planning expertise:

  • Law of Trusts
  • Taxation of Trusts & Estates
  • Wills, Trust & Estate Administration
  • Trust & Estate Planning


Essay Writing Hints, Suggestions and Resources

The following suggestions are taken from comments made by STEP Canada essay markers. They should assist you in preparing your essays and in understanding what the adjudicators are looking for:

Addressing the Topic

  • Read the question carefully and plan your research.
  • Address the question in a full and balanced manner.
  • Anticipate and respond to potential questions from your markers.
  • Address all relevant current statutes and case law.
  • Identify problems and possible solutions to those problems.
  • Remember that your submission should demonstrate that you have both a theoretical and a practical knowledge of the subject.
  • Demonstrate your analytical capabilities and expertise by proposing practical solutions.
  • Use examples.
  • Be aware of the word count (2500 - 3000 words).
  • Pad your essay by including material that is not relevant to the question. For example, do not recite the facts of a case at length unless they are relevant.
  • Attempt to include everything you know on a subject. Confine your answer to the particular question.
  • Use someone else's language, thoughts, or ideas without acknowledging them, giving them credit and augmenting them with your own. This is called plagiarism.
  • Make statements without backing them up with an authority.


  • Consider the extent of the research required.
  • Engage in sufficient research before you start writing.
  • Remember that research involves analyzing divergent views to try to achieve a practical reconciliation.
  • Consider whether you need to do more research, change your topic or refine your research.
  • Use primary source materials - original source documents, legislation, cases and analysis.
  • Use secondary material - books, texts, articles based on primary information — only to define your topic and frame the questions you want to answer.
  • Pay attention while note taking to allow you to include appropriate footnotes and bibliography references.
  • Plagiarize: The verbatim copying or imitation of the language, ideas, or thoughts of another author and representing them as one's own original work.


  • Remember that the title of your essay primes your reader for what follows.
  • State the aims of your essay.
  • Write using plain language.
  • Write so that your paper is comprehensible to a layperson.
  • Use headings — they remind readers where you've been and where you're going next.
  • Use short sentences in the active rather than passive voice.
  • Include specific statutory references and case references; don't merely say "case law provides" or "statute provides".
  • Use quotation marks for exact excerpts.
  • Footnote your sources.
  • Note the status of draft legislation and cited cases.
  • Double space.
  • Be consistent with your fonts, points of view.
  • Engage in disjointed and incoherent composition; it shows a lack of a logical approach to answering the question.
  • Include sentences that do not add to the development of your topic.
  • Use adjectives, adverbs, flowery language and phrases.

Resources on Essay Writing and Writing in General
  • The Craft of Research
  • Strunk and White
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