One of the main things that you can do to improve your KS3 English Writing, is to improve the overall quality of your written words. The bottom line is that your essay marks will dramatically increase if you can demonstrate particular KS3 English writing qualities, thereby impressing the assessors. In this blog, we’ll give you some top tips on improving your KS3 English writing.
KS3 English Writing: Compare and Contrast
Learning how to compare and contrast ideas and information is a really important aspect of KS3 English writing. The vast majority of essays will require you to compare and contrast ideas, evaluating the pros and cons of different approaches and arguments, before coming to a conclusion. With this in mind, it’s important that you can do this properly. You need to structure compare and contrast essays in a particular way – clearly laying out your arguments in a coherent manner. The way you introduce your comparison really makes a difference here. Below are some key phrases to consider when doing this:
- ‘The main differences between Idea A and Idea B are as follows:’
- ‘Whilst Idea A argues that…., Idea B is almost completely contradictory to this…’
- ‘There are significant ideological differences between Speaker A and Speaker B. Where A argues…, B argues that…’
Of course, the above are all slightly longer introductions to a comparison argument. You can use simple phrases to link your comparisons too, for example:
- ‘In addition to’
- ‘In contrast to’
- ‘Despite this’
It goes without saying that the clearer your compare and contrast argument is, and the more obvious it is what you are doing to the assessor, the better marks you will score.
One mistake that many students make at KS3 is that they simply aren’t confident enough in their own words. When writing an essay, be assertive! The assessor doesn’t want to read phrases like ‘it could be argued that’ or ‘in my opinion’. While you won’t be heavily penalised for these, it will work in your favour if you can put yourself across in a persuasive and emphatic fashion.
Think about if you were marking an essay. Imagine that you had two papers arguing two different points. One of these papers is confident, assertive; the other is less so:
- ‘Without Stalin’s dogged resilience, the German onslaught would not have been stopped. Hitler would have won the war.’
- ‘It is arguable that without Stalin’s dogged resilience in the face of the German onslaught, Hitler would have won the war.’
As the saying goes, you have to back yourself. After all, if you aren’t confident in your own arguments, then why should the assessor be? While we aren’t saying that you should be arrogant or stubborn, it certainly pays to take a confident and assertive approach in your essays, and state your points with the conviction that you are right.
Brush Up On Your Grammar
This might seem like a given, but the reality is that you will lose marks for using punctuation incorrectly. Whether you are a KS3 student or even someone attending university, assessors expect you to use basic grammar accurately. Let’s look at possibly the most basic, and often incorrectly used, methods of punctuation – the comma.
The comma is a deceptively difficult piece of punctuation to use. For this reason, it is often misused and/or overused. The difficulty lies in the fact that there are many different writing situations that require the use of a comma, and many situations where its use would be incorrect.
So, we can say that there are many different types of comma. The simplest use of the comma is to separate nouns in a list.
- The government is prioritising education, health, and libraries.
- The new signing brings pace, power, and vision to the squad.
- Bleak House, Great Expectations, and Little Dorrit are all works by Charles Dickens.
Note: The examples given above all employ the ‘Oxford Comma’ or ‘serial comma’ (a comma between the penultimate item in the list and ‘and’), which is generally seen as being optional.
The Oxford Comma
Those in favour of the Oxford comma suggest it can bring clarity to certain situations. For example, consider the following two versions of this sentence:
- ‘I love my children, Dracula, and Frankenstein.’
- ‘I love my children, Dracula and Frankenstein.’
As you can see, the use of the Oxford comma in the first sentence makes it crystal clear that the writer loves their children, as well as the two characters of Dracula and Frankenstein. The other version of the sentence could suggest something rather different – that the writer’s children are Dracula and Frankenstein.
Sharpen Your Sentences
In many cases, you should aim to keep your sentences as short as possible. This is not for word count-related reasons, but to keep your sentences concise and focused. Essentially, it ensures you are not writing ‘empty’ sentences or waffling.
Of course, in creative writing, such a hard-and-fast rule could stymie your voice or stifle a particular mood that you were aiming to create. In these cases, don’t let ruthless efficiency get in the way of your style.
So, let’s have a look at how you can cut the excess words from your sentences.
Without question, it is possible to say that the Fool has an important role to play in the plot of King Lear. This character represents Lear’s conscience throughout and, ironically, acts a foil to his foolishness.
This could become:
The Fool represents Lear’s conscience throughout and, ironically, acts as a foil to his foolishness.
Avoiding repetition is an effective way to sharpen up a sentence; you don’t need to say the same thing in many different ways. If you are writing an essay, repetition will not further your point or improve your work. It could even cause whoever’s marking to lose interest or penalise you. You don’t want to create the impression that you’re fluffing up your writing to meet the word count – quite the opposite.
Make your reader feel as if every word was selected for a clear and proactive reason. If you’re looking to cut down a piece of writing that’s over the word limit, experiment with taking out words and phrases that could be considered as overkill. A lot of the time, you’ll find that the meaning of what you’re saying hasn’t changed, and your writing has become punchier and more impactful.