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How to plan an essay? watch

    • Thread Starter

    I've always struggled with planning and it most certainly is one of my weakest aspects of English. Just how on earth do I plan an essay out?

    Jot your initial ideas down- doesn't have to make total sense- and while doing this keep in mind what the question is asking you.
    Once you've got about 5 points down that you can explore, with relevant quotations, number them in order you're going to write them in. This will structure your essay.
    Formulate a good introduction and conclusion. The actual content (which you've already planned for) will fall into place. Especially if you've done an introduction. I was at a conference with Stella Canwell (chief examiner) and she said that an introduction doesn't say "I will be answering the question, which is..." or something like that. I good intro is straight to the point: "In A Woman of no Importance, Wilde is clearly satirising Victorian values through the character of..."
    Jotting down connectives is good too, so your essay flows/ is cohesive.

    Some people work best with spider diagrams, others lists.. etc.

    A plan is good, since if you run out of time, you can write down "See plan" and hopefully the examiner will see your key ideas and award you some marks.

    Good luck! I never used to plan before because I thought that just isn't how my brain works, but it can help a lot!

    Another way of doing it is to think of 4-5 quotes you can immediatly associate with the question, then quickly writing them out and adding links between them as you do it. So if the question is about danger, get 5 quotes to do with danger, then link them to key themes from the text... eg: one quote is about emotional danger, another physical danger, then you have another quote about a person, which can cover the two.

    In lit, a key assessment objective is the one with language, form and structure, so make sure your plan includes a relevant point on each of these then you'll pick up the marks. Similarly, if you're being assessed on the social context of the text (AO5), include a point about context in your plan then you'll remember as its really easy to overlook this part.

    Thats probably a random way to plan, but I always find it easier to get my quotes then associate the key themes/ideas of the text to the quote, than to add the quotes in after.

    At the end of the exam, make sure you cross your plan out or make it obvious it is your planning and not your actual answer. Make sure the plan can still be read though, so a simple line straight through it is fine. Sometimes the examiners award marks for planning if you run out of time.
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Updated: April 14, 2006
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