Planning An A Level English Essay

Firstly and ideally, some time should go into researching and choosing critical and textual material to use in your essay. 

Next: choose your arguements. Some people prefer to write the body of an essay first, then write their introductions and conclusion. It's completely up to you! (Sometimes it's easier to write the body of the essay then intro/conc. so you know you haven't wandered from what you've said you're going to write about)

Structure: (body of the essay) The structure of an essay should be simple, this is so an examiner/marker can follow your arguement easily. Start by making an overarching point, explaining how this point supports your answer to the question and then prove this with quotations and an explanation of the language/technical devices and critical support. By the end of each paragraph, you should link back to the question, in order to maintain a concise and clear arguement. 

PEQE (Point, Example/Quote, Explanation) is always a good code to go by. When quoting, remember to use textual and critical quotations. Then make it revelvant to the overarching point, as well as referencing the critical evidence that supports you! 

Introductions/Conclusions: These are the paragraphs that the examiner/marker reads first and last-so make them clear and concise. This gives a sense of confidence that is what the examiner/marker is looking for! It's always helpful to define what you mean, it could be defining your interpretation of the question and/or defining elements of your text that are important (date written, style, influences on the writer) Lastly, both of these paragraphs should support what you've written in the essay and reiterate why you've said what you've said. 

It's easier than you think! (Plus an excuse to use coloured pens, if you're into that sort of thing) 

Planning an essay

Planning starts with understanding your task, how much time you have, the number of words you have to write and what direction you're going to take.

Before you embark on research, give yourself realistic goals for the amount of material you need by sketching out a plan for length. Download an essay plan template

Check the title, idea or plan with your tutor. He or she might have expectations you haven't realised and may spot a problem with the basic idea. (Luke Martell, Professor of Political Sociology at the University of Sussex).

As soon as you have done some reading and thinking, you can begin planning the content of your essay.

Allow yourself to change your plan but remember it gives you a structure for your argument, so if you change the plan you will have to check your line of reasoning and the evidence you use.

Your tutor may give you specific guidance about the structure of your written assignment.

Tabular Plan

Making a tabular plan can help visualise your argument and is useful for a comparative essay - see the example below (click on the image to enlarge).

Example plan

Is globalisation a new phenomenon? [pdf 22kb]

Linear Plan

A linear plan helps you think about structure. Your tutors may ask to see an essay plan but even if you do not need to hand it in, it is essential to your essay.

Here is a linear plan: (click on the image to enlarge).

Second year student: Molecular Cell Biology essay outline:

What are peroxisomes? What do they do? And, how are proteins targeted to them? [pdf 65KB]

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