How to Write the perfect A level Essay

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Essay Writing By: Please log in to see tutor details
Subject: Essay Writing
Last updated: 29/07/2017
Tags: don't mix your worms up, essay planning, essay structure, proofread!

With so many essays available for purchase at the touch of a button, you might wonder what the point is in learning how to write a great essay. Why should you waste your precious time when you could be hanging out with your friends, you may be thinking. Well, the fact is that we live in a society where the ability to write fluently, coherently, cohesively and meaningfully is expected. With technological advances, which allow information to be available at the click of a button, as well as spellchecking, grammar checking and thesaurus, there is just NO EXCUSE to sound illiterate. It is just as important to be able to write well as it is to have the information you are writing about otherwise what you write will be a mess of confusing word salad.

By the time you are doing your A levels, if you can't write a good essay then you are doomed to E grade or below. This probably will not get you into any university worth its fees. So it will be harder for you be able to get a job worth having, with a salary you can live on.

Plus, if you can write a good essay you will feel accomplished and that can't be a bad thing. Your confidence will soar when you know you have finally cracked the essay writing challenge.

So, first things first - how to start?

Your beloved teacher or tutor will have explained exactly the assessment criteria that the examiner will be using to MARK your essay. If cultural historical and political contexts are being assessed the font forget to discuss these aspects if the text in detail, mak8ng links wherever possible between texts. So do a PLAN that includes these criteria before you start your essay.  That way you won't forget these aspects - and DON'T orget to tick them off as you proceed, to avoid repetition.

Everyone knows that all essays need an introduction, a "middle bit" and a conclusion. But how long should the introduction be? What is supposed to go in the middle bit? What is the point of rehashing everything in a conclusion? And worst of all for most students - how on earth do you start the essay?!

Starting your essay is always scary, because in a sense you are making yourself vulnerable to judgment and taunting, by cruel, terrifying teachers. But believe me, the more you do it, the easier it gets.

The easiest and most effective way of starting an essay is to refer to the question in the introduction, introducing the subject and then mentioning briefly everything you intend to cover.

For example, for the following recent AQA GCSE exam question "How do Trailfinders use language to persuade you to book their trip to Antarctica" this would be a good introduction:

Trailfinders use several linguistic devices to persuade their target audience not only to go to Antarctica, but also to book with them. These devices include similes, metaphors and several adjectives, all of which have been chosen to make the reader feel that Antarctica is the only place to go on holiday and that Trailfinders is the only agent worth booking with.

The "middle bit" is where you expand on each of the devices you mentioned in your introduction, in detail. For example:

The first device Trailfinders use is the simile "skies as clear as heaven". This gives the reader an instant sense of how beautiful Antarctica is. The word "heaven" also implies that a trip to Antarctica will be a spiritual experience. The metaphor "dinosaur" in "dinosaur watering holes" conveys the enormity of the frozen lakes. This also helps the reader to understand that Antarctica has barely changed since the ice age destroyed the dinosaurs, through the use of connotations. The adjectives "glorious", ice-blue", "clean" and "white" all work together to create an image of an absolutely beautiful place which is completely uncontaminated in any way by the rest of the world. This makes it feel as if going to Antarctica will cure any depression or any pessimism.

You would then continue in a similar vein, talking (I mean writing!) about the other devices used to sell Trailfinders. Dont forget to use comparitu e rords and cinjunctiind like 'althougg' , 'whereas' , 'on the irher hand' to help your essay to flow and make it cohesive. 

For your conclusion, you do not simply repeat what you have written. You don't want to waste your time writing it out again and the examiner definitely doesn't want to waste his or her time reading it all again! Instead, keep it short and sweet and say something like:

In conclusion, the Trailfinders advertorial is very effective at persuading readers to book their holiday to Antarctica with Trailfinders,  because the careful selection of linguistic devices mentioned above makes Anarctica seem very attractive and makes Trailfinders seem as if they are the best possible agent to book your holiday with . 

Of course, apart from a good, solid structure, you also need to be able to include wonderful vocabulary accurately, to use good grammar, to know what the terminology means (e.g. "connotations") and to be observant and perceptive when you read - and whatever else you do remember to leave 5-10 minutes to PROOFREAD your essay...but those are topics for another day!

 

 


Laura Pasternack A-level English Tutor (West London)

About The Author

Teaching is my third and final career and I love it. I get on extremely well with students of all ages and abilities and enjoy watching their confidence and competence develop quickly as they begin to achieve more than they thought possible.




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