Essay Writing Guidance

Essay Writing Guidance

Supporting your essay writing skills in GCSE and A-level

  • Effective opening with a tricolon
    • Try to distil your ideas under three main umbrella headings. In your exams you are writing under timed conditions and therefore must prioritise what you will focus your time on.
    • This will also help you evaluate and organise your ideas as you can include smaller details or consequences from these three main ideas in the body of your analysis and therefore demonstrate evaluative skills
  • Defining the parameters of the question
    • A-level questions are subtle and complex. Even those that may not appear so on the surface. When dealing with questions such as ‘How is monstrosity presented in Frankenstein?’ or ‘King Lear is a tragedy of Kingship’ you will need to address first what is meant by monstrosity, tragedy or kingship. The definitions and parameters you set for the key phrases within the question will determine the success of your evaluation.
    • Parameters will also help you narrow down your focus and allow you to address the question more succinctly.
  • Using adverbials for probability in ‘to what extent do you agree?’
  • Order the plan
  • Create an evaluative hierarchy
    • Use synonyms for importance and effectiveness to support this
  • Use conjunctions
    • This will signal the development of your argument and offer a fluid movement through your essay
  • Ensure there is a link back to the question regularly
    • Use appropriate synonyms for key words in the question to avoid mechanical repetition.
    • This will ensure that you stay on topic and don’t stray into discussing other areas of the text which do not address the question at hand
  • Correct presentation of essays:
    • Names should always appear at the top of an essay
    • All proper nouns have capital letters
    • Title of books should be in italics
    • Poems should be in plain text with single apostrophes
    • Long poem titles can be abbreviated but only once they are written out at least once in full
    • Authors are referred to by their full or last name only
    • Colons should introduce quotations when they are not embedded
    • Quotations should have clear double quotation marks
    • Essays should be saved using the following format:
      • Name – Topic or Theme in Text.doc
      • Lawrence – Suffering in ‘Lammas Hireling’ and ‘Guiseppe’.doc
      • Ali M – Presentation of women in ‘Othello’

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