Writing a Critical Essay

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Intermediate Two English
 Always
read the question
carefully, considering both parts.
 Underline key words from it that
you will use from the beginning of
your essay right through to the
end.
 The starting point of your essay
should focus on the question, not
the text you have studied.
 Plan
your essay at the top of
your page or on a spare bit of
paper.
 It’s a good idea to write down
key points you want to make,
key quotations, a structure
and anything else you find
helps you.
Planning helps you avoid:
 Remembering a point later on that you wish
you had included
 Mentioning everything you know first then
having nothing to write – space it out!
 Stating in your introduction that you are
going to follow a certain line of thought but
then your discussion gradually moves away
from this
Focus on the question straightaway
 Refer to key words in the question
 Give an outline of your intention in
the essay (what will you be focusing
on/what will your line of thought
will be)
 Mention title and author
 Avoid including detail or examples
but simply take a general overview
of the question

 If
you feel you do need
summarise a part of the story,
then do so in your
introduction.
 DO NOT take a new paragraph
and begin to tell me all about
the story/poem/play.
 Use
PEAR
 If you have more than one quote
in a paragraph, then make sure
you structure it like this:
 Topic sentence (point)
 Quote 1 + Analysis
 Quote 2 + analysis
 Relate to question at the end of
the paragraph
Remember:
 At the start of every paragraph,
refer back to the intro to check
you’re still on course and you
haven’t went off in another
direction
 Do not begin paragraphs with
detailed points but instead
general topic sentences.
Example
‘In chapter one we realise Old
Major is in charge of the farm.’
INSTEAD
‘We are aware of the power
structures on the farm in the first
chapter.’
Topic Sentence
We are aware of power structures on the farm
in the first chapter. It is evident that a
hierarchy between the animals exists, with Old
Major sitting on a ‘raised platform’ and the
dogs and pigs sitting immediately in front of
him in the barn. By describing the animals
sitting in this way, Orwell signals the way in
which, despite efforts at equality, the pigs and
dogs will later assume the dominant roles on
the farm.
Analysis
Quote
(Evidence)
 Return
to your introduction and
summarise what you have proved
over the course of your essay.
 While you will be referring back to
your original points, try to vary
your word choice so it doesn’t
sound too repetitive.
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Check your spelling is correct
Particularly make sure you have spelled the
author’s name correctly, the title correctly
and the characters/settings.
Check your punctuation is correct
Make sure you haven’t allowed two
sentences to run into each other using a
comma where you should have used a full
stop.
Read your sentences back – if you run out
of breath, it’s too long!
 Using
linking words and
phrases help your writing
flow
 There are essentially four
kinds.
 1.
Adding on a similar point
Furthermore
Moreover
In addition to this…
Similarly
 2.
Making a different point
However
Nevertheless
On the other hand
In contrast to this
 3.
Placing ideas in order of
importance
In particular
More importantly
Of greatest significance
Above all
 4.
Drawing a conclusion
Thus
Therefore
As a result of this
Consequently
Use a colon : to introduce them
 No longer than one or two lines
 They should illustrate a point not simply
repeat it
 Example:
‘It is clear she had no money: ‘Katie was
heavy skint.’

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MAKE SURE YOUR QUOTATIONS ARE
WORTHWHILE!
Try to avoid using ‘I’, ‘my’ etc.
 Do not write in an informal tone = no
slang expressions
 Do not use shortened forms (don’t,
won’t, can’t = do not, will not, cannot)
 Do not use abbreviations (such as e.g.
and etc. )
 Do not write out the number 1, always
use ‘one’.
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Try to refer to some critical terminology to
boost your mark:
Imagery
Symbolism
Tone
Conflict
Themes
Climax
Narrative viewpoint
Dialect
Structure
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