Essay Writing Tips to Help You Excel in English
There is an abundance of essay writing tips available online, but most are very general and don’t provide the detailed advice students require.
One of the main reasons students find English essay writing so daunting is that they don’t understand how to structure an essay response. Instead, they write without a clear plan and their ideas become jumbled and difficult to follow.
Before writing, it’s imperative to have a solid plan. Once you’ve worked out the structure for your essay it becomes much easier to compose because you have a blueprint in place. All you need to do is fill in the details.
These essay writing tips will help you achieve excellent marks in English.
Coming up with a thesis
Your thesis statement is your argument or approach. English essay writing is usually in response to questions like this one from a recent HSC exam paper:
Explore how imagery is used in the poem to convey the wonder of discovery
It’s important to remember that there’s no single right answer in English. Your interpretation is as valid as anyone else’s and markers are looking for originality and depth in your response.
It helps to circle the keywords in the question and re-read the text several times. In this case, you would underline examples of imagery and jot down ideas about how to approach the question.
Once you have identified some examples of imagery, you’re ready to come up with a thesis which you should be able to explain in one sentence. For example, ‘the poem conveys a sense of the wonder of discovery through the use of metaphors, similes and descriptive language.’
As this question specifically asks about imagery, it’s important to show you understand what this term means by giving concrete examples. There may be other forms of imagery used in the poem, but by narrowing it down to three literary techniques, you’ve got the basis for an essay plan.
Structuring your essay
An essay has a specific structure, consisting of an introduction, a main body made up of several paragraphs and a conclusion. It’s helpful to think of your introduction as a plan for your essay. Your thesis statement can be used as the first sentence as it clearly states your approach and demonstrates you’ve understood the question.
The next sentences in your introduction provide brief details about what you’ll be discussing in the body of the essay. In this case, you could explain what ‘the wonder of discovery’ means and expand a little on how imagery conveys it in the poem.
Your main body for this essay topic would consist of separate paragraphs on each technique you’ve identified, with evidence to support your claims. It’s important to back up your thesis with direct quotes from the text. Choose the strongest one or two examples to support each statement.
In this example, the three literary techniques explored in the main body should be discussed in the same order they were introduced in your opening paragraph for consistency.
Your conclusion sums up what you’ve said and reinforces that you’ve addressed the question. This is the last opportunity to leave a good impression with your marker, so take the time to craft it well.
Final essay writing tips
The most effective way to become skilled at English essay writing is to practice composing plans and responses based on past papers. Students can also look at marking guidelines and read sample responses online to find out what markers are looking for.
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