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A Students’ Guide to Writing an Effective A Level Essay

Steve Campsall | Friday January 12, 2018

Categories: Archived Resources, KS5 Archive, AQA A Level, AQA A Level Generic Skills, AQA A Level Skills Resources, EDEXCEL A Level, Edexcel A Level Generic Skills, Edexcel A Level Skills Resources, OCR A Level, OCR A Level Generic Skills, OCR A Level Skills Resources, WJEC A Level, WJEC A Level Generic Skills, WJEC A Level Skills Resources, Hot Entries, Writing, Analytical Writing, Essays

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Teacher’s Note

What follows is a guide written for students that, I hope, will help them write more effective essays. Even an essay that gains a lowly grade will often be the result of a substantial amount of time and effort from the student; and the chances are that he or she felt all along that their writing was ‘going wrong’ somehow – but press on they must, on to what must at times seem like the bitter end. How frustrating and perhaps even belittling this process can be for the student – and how much, too, it likely reduces that student’s chances of enjoying this genuinely inspiring and wonderful subject. This essay writing guide results from many years of teaching essays in a way that I have found seems to make writing them far more enjoyable. The ideas initially came from experience of the way American teachers teach essay writing skills. The method enables students to start their essays in a way that suggests an individual response, creates authority and impact, and also allows the remaining body paragraphs to flow on logically. This helps the student to write essays that are clearly structured and much more interesting both to write and to read. Crucially, it takes away the energy-zapping frustration of wondering what to write about next.

The guide can be used ‘as is’ as a printed hand-out. It contains exemplification based on well-known texts that is intended to help students understand the technique by seeing it work in practice. Better still, the guide can be easily adapted to incorporate any suitable ‘focus’ and accompanying ‘PEE’ paragraphs based upon whatever text you are teaching in class. Alternatively, students can be set the task of creating their own essays openings using a variety of short texts and essay questions, writing just the first three paragraphs to practice the method before going on to write a full essay. I have found that by asking students to hand in or email just the opening...


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