Note; this can apply to any humanities long essay!
Contrary to my username, I have been a fairly successful English Lit student throughout my time, so rather than taking what I have learnt to the grave, I thought I'd share it with you lovely people!
It goes without saying that before you even think about putting pen to paper, have a good read of the passage (I like to read through twice - first to understand, second to notate). Then, begin to annotate the text for linguistic devices and the points that the author has made. However, you don't need to labour doing this; only annotate it if it's going to help to answer your question, otherwise you're just wasting your time! It helps to keep reading over the question while you're doing this; it'll help you maintain a focus on it. Irrelevant information doesn't help you!
I always used to make a set of bullet points that said what points I was going to make and when under the headers 'intro', 'body' and 'concl.' A good plan will help to maintain a strong focus on the question throughout your essay. I will keep repeating this throughout this guide, but it's very easy to stray away in your analysis throughout an essay, but it counts against you as it seems as if you don't understand the question. Maintaining your focus on the question is imperative!
To me, the most important part. The reader/marker will work whether the rest of the essay is going to be good or bad based solelyon the introduction. Get this right and the rest will follow.
I used to follow a structure as followed, which addressed as many of the more basic AOs immediately (so the examiner could tick them off!)
1. Show your understanding of the text(s); say briefly (no more than one sentence per text) what is going on in the texts.
2. Give an impression of what you're going to discuss in the essay; what themes do the texts present, and why are they appropriate to compare to each other?
Like the amuse bouche at a good restaurant, the introduction should give a flavour of what is to come, without giving away all the secrets. The reader should have an idea of what's to follow, without you putting a load of facts or analysis in. Save that for later.
THE BODY; PARAGRAPH STRUCTURING
This is where you get all of your information in. There's a bit of a nonsense habit among teachers of saying 'two or three paragraphs is enough.' The amount of paragraphs you have is totally irrelevant; for each individual point should have its own paragraph.Each paragraph should be ordered logically and clearly; following the PEE structure (that is point, evidence, explain). It's very common and you've definitely heard of it before, but it's the best way to structure your paragraphs.
Let us say that we are examining two texts; how will a better essay approach analysing them? The answer is integration; your essay should have comparison running throughout. Ask yourself constantly how they are similar or different, and reflect this contrasting throughout the essay. You will pass if you analyse one text and then the other, but you won't do much more.
You will also need to be selective about what you discuss; there will be a plethora of points you could make about the texts, so you're not expected to make all of them. Be selective; choose the points that best further the point you are making and develop them fully. Again, it's very much about quality over quantity when it comes to the points you are making.
If you have any critical opinions, this will really make your essay shine. What have scholars said about these particular texts? Obviously this is a harder thing to do in an exam, but it's vital to good coursework pieces.
A general point which I always have to remember is to be concise; no one likes to read waffle; it's irritating and will make the examiner less inclined to mark you well. Make your point clearly and directly, and don't waffle just to meet the word count etc. If you're not meeting the word count, you probably have left areas unexplored!
This is when you really wow your reader; where you consider all of the evidence from the body of your essay, and really nail your argument home. A good conclusion will mirror your introduction and be highly analytical. You should never bring new analysis into your conclusion. It's important for conclusions to be thoughtful, so think long and hard about the points you are making before you write it! You should close with what I like to refer to as the 'salient point'; to get the higher marks your last sentence should make a point that is original and furthers academic debate on the topic. It's very hard to describe what this will be as it's highly specific to the subject, but usually it will be a conclusion that takes on both sides of the argument.
The AQA mark schemes state that Band 5 essays will come to an 'enlightening' conclusion. This is a slightly annoying term, but it basically means originality; so, always be as original as you can!
That's about it really! If you have any specific questions, feel free to @ me and I'll do my best to answer them!
THB's 'How To Write a Killer English Essay'
|Four things that unis think matter more than league tables||08-12-2016|
- 09-04-2016 15:19
- 09-04-2016 16:43
thehistorybore thank you so much for this guide, as well!
I was wondering about how many quotes you think I should have memorised for a GCSE essay? I'm doing WJEC English, which has closed book examinations.
- 09-04-2016 16:44
(Original post by thehistorybore)
- 09-04-2016 16:46
I did WJEC for GCSE It's difficult to put an exact number on how many you need to know; just try to have two or three quotes on whatever themes that the course covers
- 09-04-2016 16:55
- 09-04-2016 16:57
- 09-04-2016 16:58
- 09-04-2016 17:05
- 09-04-2016 17:06
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- 18-10-2016 18:21
Hey thehistorybore can you please help me with An Inspector Calls please. If you can please reply back