Essay writing


Essay writing

Everything you need to know to write ‘excellence’ essays.


• Impress markers with an assertive argument and mature vocabulary.

• Set up your thesis (argument) and establish points to explore in direct response to ALL aspects of the question.

• Display confidence with language eg: using synonyms for keywords in the question.

• Display confidence with context, genre etc to make wider generalisations about the text.

Paragraph Structure

• Build a TEEPEE for each paragraph.

Paragraph Structure

• T = topic

• E = example/quote

• E = explanation

• P = purpose (author/director’s purpose)

• E = effect ( also consider on whole text and reader


• E = evaluation

(make connections, comments outside the text)


• Open each with a topic sentence which shows a clear point of view and which relates directly to the question.

• Support each statement with several examples which are thoroughly explained. Use quotes and specific details from the text.(quotations should be embedded)

• Consider the writer/director’s purpose.

• Focus on techniques -aspects of writer’s craft. Use correct terminology

• Incorporate relevant biographical, historical, or contextual information that relates to your topic and shows an appreciation of the purpose of the text, author etc.

Paragraphs continued

• Relate the text and its ideas/characters to contemporary society - why is it worth studying?

What does it have to ‘teach us’ today?

• Consider the effect on you/us -what do we as readers get out of the text?

• Evaluate the effectiveness of the text and your examples in achieving the author’s purpose and/or in relation to the question.

• Incorporate awareness of literary criticism and elements of genre.

• Mature vocabulary and varied sentence structure adds elements of interest and ‘life’ to an essay.


• Should be about four sentences.

• Recap the main points of your argument.

• Present your personal response/evaluation to the question of character, setting, theme…

• Level Three questions will often ask ‘to what extent…’. You must answer this part of the question and it is fine to state your personal opinion and to use personal pronouns to do that.

Examination technique and planning

• Firstly you need to consider the questions carefully in order to choose the best one for your text. Read ALL parts of the questions carefully, including the instructions written below each question.

• Once you have chosen a question you need to work out what it is that you are being asked to do:

underline key words; are there words that indicate an opinion is required eg: to what extent, agree or disagree.

• Decide on the line of argument that you will take. Almost all level 3 questions require you to choose a clear position and maintain it throughout the essay. Summarise your position in one sentence.

• Your planning needs to be systematic and organised. A brainstorm/mind-map will not suffice. Follow a linear approach you should organise your notes into paragraph groups.

Key words

(from question)

Essay Planning Grid


Topic sentences

Examples and explanations

Purpose and effect


Quotes/ detail

Author’s purpose, techniques, craft

Beyond the text/ literary criticism element

Point 1

Point 2

Point 3

Point (4)

Linking sentences and paragraphs

• Build a bank of connective and introductory phrases for each stage of TEEPEE:

• The author is fascinated by….,

• The film comments on…,

• This develops a (sinister) mood by….,

• The author/director’s use of …… particularly effective….

• The writing style is striking……