If you’re taking an essay-based A-Level subject such as English Literature, History, Geography, or Religious Studies, then you need to be able to write killer essays. Essays are used in exams to judge how well a candidate can convey and expand on their ideas, and so it’s extremely important that you know how to write a great essay – even under time constraints. Here, we’re going to look at 3 essay writing tricks so you can ace your next essay.
Trick 1: Stop Grand-Standing – Essay Writing Tricks
Grand-standing usually occurs in the opening sentence of an essay, and is a phrase or statement that makes bold, sweeping claims. Here’s an example of grand-standing:
“Since the dawn of time, people have wondered what it means to be human.”
While this phrase isn’t exactly false, it adds nothing to your essay. You want to make a strong first impression in any essay, and so you should cut to the chase of your argument. Rather than grand-standing, try to head straight into your introduction by explaining what your essay will be about.
Bonus Tip: The best introductions are shorter ones! Try to limit your introduction to a few sentences so that you have time to write the rest of your essay!
Trick 2: It’s All in the Planning
In an exam, you might be tempted to charge straight into your answer. Perhaps you have the perfect response in your head, and just want to dive straight in. Not so fast! While you might have a good idea now, it’s easy to lose focus and go off-track. This is why you need to create a plan, and stick to it.
For longer essay questions, with maybe 45 minutes to an hour for your answer, try to spend between 5 and 10 minutes planning. During planning, figure out the following:
- What side of the argument you’re going to land on (e.g. ‘For’ or ‘Against’);
- Each step or paragraph of your essay;
- Potential statistics and quotes that can support your argument (write these in short-hand, don’t worry about writing a full quote in your plan).
- How your argument will conclude.
Once you have a plan, you need to stick to it. This cannot be stressed enough, since your plan will keep you on-course to your conclusion. If new great ideas come to mind, only add them if they are explicitly relevant to your argument. Speaking of which…
Tip 3: Stay Relevant
One of the biggest mistakes a candidate can make in an essay-based question is to go off-track, or fail to answer the question. In your planning stage, carefully read the question to make sure that you fully understand what it’s really asking. Only start your answer when you’re clear of this.
Make sure that every point of your argument is relevant to what the question is asking. In an exam, you don’t have time to go off on flowery tangents: keep it simple, straightforward, and focus on what the question is asking.
Conclusion – Essay Writing Tricks
There you have it – three essay writing tricks for writing killer essays. If you want more tips on improving your A-Level performance, check out our guide: Pass Your A-Levels With A*s.