University of Newcastle

How to plan an essay: Essay Planning

  • What's in this guide
  • Essay Planning
  • Additional resources

How to plan an essay

Essay planning is an important step in academic essay writing.

Proper planning helps you write your essay faster, and focus more on the exact question.  As you draft and write your essay, record any changes on the plan as well as in the essay itself, so they develop side by side.

One way to start planning an essay is with a ‘box plan’.

First, decide how many stages you want in your argument – how many important points do you want to make? Then, divide a box into an introduction + one paragraph for each stage + a conclusion.

Next, figure out how many words per paragraph you'll need.

Usually, the introduction and conclusion are each about 10% of the word count. This leaves about 80% of the word count for the body - for your real argument. Find how many words that is, and divide it by the number of body paragraphs you want. That tells you about how many words each paragraph can have.

Remember, each body paragraph discusses one main point, so make sure each paragraph's long enough to discuss the point properly (flexible, but usually at least 150 words).

For example, say the assignment is

Fill in the table as follows:

Next, record each paragraph's main argument, as either a heading or  topic sentence (a sentence to start that paragraph, to immediately make its point clear).

Finally, use dot points to list useful information or ideas from your research notes for each paragraph. Remember to include references so you can connect each point to your reading.

The other useful document for essay planning is the marking rubric .

This indicates what the lecturer is looking for, and helps you make sure all the necessary elements are there.

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  • Last Updated: Feb 15, 2024 1:23 PM
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7 Steps for Writing an Essay Plan

Have you ever started writing an essay then realized you have run out of ideas to talk about?

This can make you feel deflated and you start to hate your essay!

How to write an Essay Plan

The best way to avoid this mid-essay disaster is to plan ahead: you need to write an Essay Plan!

Essay planning is one of the most important skills I teach my students. When I have one-to-one tutorials with my students, I always send them off with an essay plan and clear goals about what to write.

Essay Planning isn’t as dull as you think. In fact, it really does only take a short amount of time and can make you feel oh so relieved that you know what you’re doing!

Here’s my 7-Step method that I encourage you to use for your next essay:

The 7-Step Guide on How to write an Essay Plan

  • Figure out your Essay Topic (5 minutes)
  • Gather your Sources and take Quick Notes (20 minutes)
  • Brainstorm using a Mind-Map (10 minutes)
  • Arrange your Topics (2 minutes)
  • Write your topic Sentences (5 minutes)
  • Write a No-Pressure Draft in 3 Hours (3 hours)
  • Edit your Draft Once every Few Days until Submission (30 minutes)

I’ve been using this 7-Step essay planning strategy since I was in my undergraduate degree. Now, I’ve completed a PhD and written over 20 academic journal articles and dozens of blog posts using this method – and it still works!

Let’s go through my 7 steps for how to write an essay plan.

Prefer to Watch than Read? Here’s our video on writing an Essay Plan.

how to write an essay plan

1. figure out your essay topic. here’s how..

Where did your teacher provide you with your assessment details?

Find it. This is where you begin.

Now, far, far, far too many students end up writing essays that aren’t relevant to the essay question given to you by your teacher. So print out your essay question and any other advice or guidelines provided by your teacher.

Here’s some things that your assessment details page might include:

  • The essay question;
  • The marking criteria;
  • Suggested sources to read;
  • Some background information on the topic

The essay question is really important. Once you’ve printed it I want you to do one thing:

Highlight the key phrases in the essay question.

Here’s some essay questions and the key phrases you’d want to highlight:

This strategy helps you to hone in on exactly what you want to talk about. These are the key phrases you’re going to use frequently in your writing and use when you look for sources to cite in your essay!

The other top thing to look at is the marking criteria. Some teachers don’t provide this, but if they do then make sure you pay attention to the marking criteria !

Here’s an example of a marking criteria sheet:

Sample Essay Topic: Is Climate Change the Greatest Moral Challenge of our Generation?

Now, if you have a marking criteria you really need to pay attention to this. You have to make sure you’ve ticked off all the key criteria that you will be marked on. For the example above, your essay is going to have to make sure it:

  • Takes a position about whether climate change is a serious challenge for human kind;
  • Discusses multiple different people’s views on the topic;
  • Explores examples and case studies (‘practical situations’);
  • Uses referencing to back up your points.

The reason you need to be really careful to pay attention to this marking criteria is because it is your cheat sheet: it tells you what to talk about!

Step 1 only takes you five minutes and helps you to clearly clarify what you’re going to be talking about! Now your mind is tuned in and you can start doing some preliminary research.

2. Gather your Sources and take Quick Notes. Here’s how.

Now that you know what your focus is, you can start finding some information to discuss. You don’t want to just write things from the top of your head. If you want top marks, you want some deep, detailed and specific pieces of information.

Fortunately, your teacher has probably made this easy for you.

The top source for finding information will be the resources your teacher provided. These resources were hand picked by your teacher because they believed these were the best sources available our there on the topic. Here are the most common resources teachers provide:

  • Lecture Slides;
  • Assigned Readings.

The lecture slides are one of the best resources for you to access. Lecture slides are usually provided online for you. Download them, save them on your computer, and dig them up when it’s time to write the essay plan.

Find the lecture slides most relevant to your topic. To take the example of our climate change essay, maybe climate change is only discussed in three of the weeks in your course. Those are the three weeks’ lecture slides you want to hone-in on.

Flick through those lecture slides and take quick notes on a piece of paper – what are the most important topics and statistics that are relevant to your essay question?

Now, move on to the assigned readings . Your teacher will have selected some readings for you to do for homework through the semester. They may be eBooks, Textbooks or Journal Articles.

These assigned readings were assigned for a reason: because they have very important information to read ! Scan through them and see if there’s any more points you can add to your list of statistics and key ideas to discuss.

Next, try to find a few more sources using Google Scholar. This is a great resource for finding more academic articles that you can read to find even more details and ideas to add to your essay.

Here’s my notes that I researched for the essay question “Is Climate Change the Greatest Moral Challenge of our Generation?” As you can see, it doesn’t have to be beautiful #Studygram notes! It’s just rough notes to get all the important information down:

sample of rough notes scrawled on paper

Once you’ve read the assigned lecture slides and readings, you should have a good preliminary list of ideas, topics, statistics and even quotes that you can use in step 3.

3. Brainstorm using a Mind-Map. Here’s how.

Do your initial notes look a little disorganized?

That’s okay. The point of Step 2 was to gather information. Now it’s time to start sorting these ideas in your mind.

The best way to organize thoughts is to create a Mind-Map. Here’s how Mind-Maps often look:

sample blank mind-map

For your essay plan Mind-Map, write the essay question in the middle of the page and draw a circle around it.

mind-map with essay question written in center

Then, select the biggest and most important key ideas that you think are worth discussing in the essay. To decide on these, you might want to look back at the notes you took in Step 2.

Each key idea will take up around about 200 – 350 words (1 to 2 sentences).

Here’s a rough guide for how many key ideas you’ll want depending on your essay length:

  • 1000-word essay: 3 to 4 key ideas
  • 1500-word essay: 5 to 7 key ideas
  • 2000-word essay: 6 to 8 key ideas
  • 3000-word essay: 9 to 12 key ideas

Once you’ve selected your key ideas you can list them in a circle around the essay question, just like this:

mind map with essay question and key ideas filled-in

Last, we need to add detail and depth to each key idea. So, draw more lines out from each key ideas and list:

  • Two sources that you will cite for each key idea;
  • A statistic or example that you will provide for each key idea;
  • Any additional interesting facts for each key idea

Here’s how it might look once you’re done:

completed mind-map

4. Arrange your Topics. Here’s how.

You’re well and truly on your way to getting your essay down on paper now.

There’s one last thing to do before you start getting words down on the manuscript that you will submit. You need to arrange your topics to decide which to write first, second, third, fourth, and last!

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Start and end with your strongest points;
  • Ensure the points logically flow.

To ensure your points logically flow, think about how you’re going to transition from one idea to the next . Does one key point need to be made first so that the other ones make sense?

Do two key points seem to fit next to one another? If so, make sure you list them side-by-side.

Have a play around with the order you want to discuss the ideas until you’re comfortable. Then, list them in order. Here’s my order for my Climate Change essay:

Each of these key ideas is going to turn into a paragraph or two (probably two) in the essay.

5. Write your topic Sentences in just 5 minutes. Here’s how.

All good essays have clear paragraphs that start with a topic sentence . To turn these brainstormed key points into an essay, you need to get that list you wrote in Step 5 and turn each point into a topic sentence for a paragraph.

It’s important that the first sentence of each paragraph clearly states the paragraph’s topic. Your marker is going to want to know exactly what your paragraph is about immediately. You don’t want your marker to wait until the 3 rd , 4 th or 5 th line of a paragraph before they figure out what you’re talking about in the paragraph.

So, you need to state what your key idea is in the first sentence of the paragraph.

Let’s have a go at turning each of our key ideas into a topic sentence:

6. Write a No-Pressure Essay Draft in just 3 Hours. Here’s how.

Okay, now the rubber hits the road. Let’s get writing!

When you write your first draft, don’t put pressure on yourself. Remind yourself that this is the first of several attempts at creating a great essay, so it doesn’t need to be perfect right away. The important thing is that you get words down on paper.

To write the draft, have a go at adding to each of your topic sentences to turn them into full paragraphs. Follow the information you wrote down in your notes and Mind-Map to get some great details down on paper.

Forget about the introduction and conclusion for now. You can write them last.

Let’s have a go at one together. I’m going to choose the paragraph on my key idea “Is climate change caused by humans?”

I’ve already got my first sentence and my brainstormed ideas. Let’s build on them to write a draft paragraph:

screenshot of a section of a mind map displaying key ideas for the essay

  • “Most scientists believe climate change is caused by humans. In fact, according to the IPCC, over 98% of climate change scientists accept the scientific data that climate change is caused by humans (IPCC, 2018). This figure is very high, signalling overwhelming expert consensus. This consensus holds that the emission of carbon from burning of fossil fuels in the 20 th Century is trapping heat into the atmosphere. However, a minority of dissenting scientists continue to claim that this carbon build-up is mostly the fault of natural forces such as volcanoes which emit enormous amounts of carbon into the atmosphere (Bier, 2013).”

Your turn – have a go at your own draft paragraphs based on your Mind-Map for your essay topic! If you hit a rut or have some trouble, don’t forget to check out our article on how to write perfect paragraphs .

Once you’ve written all your paragraphs, make sure you write an introduction and conclusion .

Gone over the word count? Check out our article on how to reduce your word count.

7. Edit your Draft Once every Few Days until Submission. Check out this simple approach:

Okay, hopefully after your three hour essay drafting session you’ve got all your words down on paper. Congratulations!

However, we’re not done yet.

The best students finish their drafts early on so they have a good three or four weeks to come back and re-read their draft and edit it every few days.

When coming back to edit your draft , here’s a few things to look out for:

  • Make sure all the paragraph and sentence structure makes sense. Feel free to change words around until things sound right. You might find that the first time you edit something it sounds great, but next time you realize it’s not as good as you thought. That’s why we do multiple rounds of edits over the course of a few weeks;
  • Check for spelling, grammar and punctuation errors;
  • Print out your draft and read it on paper. You notice more mistakes when you read a printed-out version;
  • Work on adding any more details and academic sources from online sources like Google Scholar to increase your chance of getting a top grade. Here’s our ultimate guide on finding scholarly sources online – it might be helpful for this step!

Before you go – Here’s the Actionable Essay Plan Tips Summed up for you

Phew! That essay was tough. But with this essay plan, you can get through any essay and do a stellar job! Essay planning is a great way to ensure your essays make sense, have a clear and compelling argument, and don’t go off-topic.

I never write an essay without one.

To sum up, here are the 7 steps to essay planning one more time:

The 7-Step Guide for How to Write an Essay Plan

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Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]

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  • UCAS Guide Home >
  • A-Level English Literature

How to Write an A-Level English Literature Essay

A young woman is immersed in writing an A-level English Literature essay in a quiet café.A young woman is immersed in writing an A-level English Literature essay in a quiet café.

Writing an A-level English Literature essay is like creating a masterpiece. It’s a skill that can make a big difference in your academic adventure. 

In this article, we will explore the world of literary analysis in an easy-to-follow way. We’ll show you how to organise your thoughts, analyse texts, and make strong arguments. 

The Basics of Crafting A-Level English Literature Essays

Essay notes on a desk for 'How to Write A-Level English Literature Essays.'

Understanding the Assignment: Decoding Essay Prompts

Writing begins with understanding. When faced with an essay prompt, dissect it carefully. Identify keywords and phrases to grasp what’s expected. Pay attention to verbs like “analyse,” “discuss,” or “evaluate.” These guide your approach. For instance, if asked to analyse, delve into the how and why of a literary element.

Essay Structure: Building a Solid Foundation

The structure is the backbone of a great essay. Start with a clear introduction that introduces your topic and thesis. The body paragraphs should each focus on a specific aspect, supporting your thesis. Don’t forget topic sentences—they guide readers. Finally, wrap it up with a concise conclusion that reinforces your main points.

Thesis Statements: Crafting Clear and Powerful Arguments

Your thesis is your essay’s compass. Craft a brief statement conveying your main argument. It should be specific, not vague. Use it as a roadmap for your essay, ensuring every paragraph aligns with and supports it. A strong thesis sets the tone for an impactful essay, giving your reader a clear sense of what to expect.

Exploring PEDAL for Better A-Level English Essays

Going beyond PEE to PEDAL ensures a holistic approach, hitting the additional elements crucial for A-Level success. This structure delves into close analysis, explains both the device and the quote, and concludes with a contextual link. 

Below are some examples to illustrate how PEDAL can enhance your essay:

Clearly state your main idea.

Example: “In this paragraph, we explore the central theme of love in Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet.'”

Pull relevant quotes from the text.

Example: “Citing Juliet’s line, ‘My only love sprung from my only hate,’ highlights the conflict between love and family loyalty.”

Identify a literary technique in the evidence.

Example: “Analysing the metaphor of ‘love sprung from hate,’ we unveil Shakespeare’s use of contrast to emphasise the intensity of emotions.”

Break down the meaning of the evidence.

Example: “Zooming in on the words ‘love’ and ‘hate,’ we dissect their individual meanings, emphasising the emotional complexity of the characters.”

Link to Context:

Connect your point to broader contexts.

Example: “Linking this theme to the societal norms of the Elizabethan era adds depth, revealing how Shakespeare challenges prevailing beliefs about love and family.”

Navigating the World of Literary Analysis

Top view of bookmarked books arranged neatly, symbolising literary exploration and analysis.

Breaking Down Literary Elements: Characters, Plot, and Themes

Literary analysis is about dissecting a text’s components. Characters, plot, and themes are key players. Explore how characters develop, influence the narrative, and represent broader ideas. Map out the plot’s structure—introduction, rising action, climax, and resolution. Themes, the underlying messages, offer insight into the author’s intent. Pinpointing these elements enriches your analysis.

Effective Text Analysis: Uncovering Hidden Meanings

Go beyond the surface. Effective analysis uncovers hidden layers. Consider symbolism, metaphors, and imagery. Ask questions: What does a symbol represent? How does a metaphor enhance meaning? Why was a particular image chosen? Context is crucial. Connect these literary devices to the broader narrative, revealing the author’s nuanced intentions.

Incorporating Critical Perspectives: Adding Depth to Your Essays

Elevate your analysis by considering various perspectives. Literary criticism opens new doors. Explore historical, cultural, or feminist viewpoints. Delve into how different critics interpret the text. This depth showcases a nuanced understanding, demonstrating your engagement with broader conversations in the literary realm. Incorporating these perspectives enriches your analysis, setting your essay apart.

Secrets to Compelling Essays

Structuring your ideas: creating coherent and flowing essays.

Structure is the roadmap readers follow. Start with a captivating introduction that sets the stage. Each paragraph should have a clear focus, connected by smooth transitions. Use topic sentences to guide readers through your ideas. Aim for coherence—each sentence should logically follow the previous one. This ensures your essay flows seamlessly, making it engaging and easy to follow.

Presenting Compelling Arguments: Backing Up Your Points

Compelling arguments rest on solid evidence. Support your ideas with examples from the text. Quote relevant passages to reinforce your points. Be specific—show how the evidence directly relates to your argument. Avoid generalisations. Strong arguments convince the reader of your perspective, making your essay persuasive and impactful.

The Power of Language: Writing with Clarity and Precision

Clarity is key in essay writing. Choose words carefully to convey your ideas precisely. Avoid unnecessary complexity—simple language is often more effective. Proofread to eliminate ambiguity and ensure clarity. Precision in language enhances the reader’s understanding and allows your ideas to shine. Crafting your essay with care elevates the overall quality, leaving a lasting impression.

Mastering A-level English Literature essays unlocks academic success. Armed with a solid structure, nuanced literary analysis, and compelling arguments, your essays will stand out. Transform your writing from good to exceptional. 

For personalised guidance, join Study Mind’s A-Level English Literature tutors . Elevate your understanding and excel in your literary pursuits. Enrich your learning journey today!

How long should my A-level English Literature essay be, and does word count matter?

While word count can vary, aim for quality over quantity. Typically, essays range from 1,200 to 1,500 words. Focus on expressing your ideas coherently rather than meeting a specific word count. Ensure each word contributes meaningfully to your analysis for a concise and impactful essay.

Is it acceptable to include personal opinions in my literature essay?

While it’s essential to express your viewpoint, prioritise textual evidence over personal opinions. Support your arguments with examples from the text to maintain objectivity. Balance your insights with the author’s intent, ensuring a nuanced and well-supported analysis.

Can I use quotes from literary critics in my essay, and how do I integrate them effectively?

Yes, incorporating quotes from critics can add depth. Introduce the critic’s perspective and relate it to your argument. Analyse the quote’s relevance and discuss its impact on your interpretation. This demonstrates a broader engagement with literary conversations.

How do I avoid sounding repetitive in my essay?

Vary your language and sentence structure. Instead of repeating phrases, use synonyms and explore different ways to express the same idea. Ensure each paragraph introduces new insights, contributing to the overall development of your analysis. This keeps your essay engaging and avoids monotony.

Is it necessary to memorise quotes, or can I refer to the text during exams?

While memorising key quotes is beneficial for a closed text exam, you can refer to the text during open text exams. However, it’s crucial to be selective. Memorise quotes that align with common themes and characters, allowing you to recall them quickly and use them effectively in your essay under time constraints.

How can I improve my essay writing under time pressure during exams?

Practise timed writing regularly to enhance your speed and efficiency. Prioritise planning—allocate a few minutes to outline your essay before starting. Focus on concise yet impactful analysis. Develop a systematic approach to time management to ensure each section of your essay receives adequate attention within the given timeframe.

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Essay structure and planning

Information on how to structure and plan your essay.

Studying

What is an essay?

An essay is a focused, academic discussion of a particular question, problem or issue.

Many of you have been writing essays for years, and are probably good at it. That's great, and everything you look at here will build on and develop those skills.

But it's worth asking: are there different things expected of a university essay from those for school, college, or other contexts?

The obvious answer is yes, and it takes time and effort to learn the range of writing skills needed to produce university essays effectively.

There are all sorts of reasons why essays are common forms of assessment. They allow you to explore a problem in-depth, express yourself concisely and precisely, and debate other people's published opinions on a topic.

They're also a good warm-up for traditional forms of academic publication, such as a journal article.

Academic essays usually follow an established organisational structure that helps the writer to express their ideas clearly and the reader to follow the thread of their argument.

An essay's structure is guided by its content and argument so every essay question will pose unique structural challenges.

301 Recommends: Glossary of Instruction Words

Our Essay Structure and Planning workshop will outline how to analyse your essay question, discuss approaches logically structure all your ideas, help you make your introductions and conclusions more effective, and teach how to link your ideas and ensure all essay content flows logically from the introduction. The Putting it into Practise workshop  

Have a look at our  Glossary of Essay Instruction Words (PDF, 100KB) , or watch this short  Study Skills Hacks video  on identifying the tasks in a question to help you identify what is required.

Planning stages

Essay writing is a process with many stages, from topic selection, planning and reading around, through to drafting, revising and proofreading.

Breaking the task down and creating a clear plan with milestones and intermediate deadlines will allow you to focus attention more fully on the writing process itself when you put your plan into action either as part of an assignment or an exam.

1. Understand the question

  • Is the question open-ended or closed? If it is open-ended you will need to narrow it down. Explain how and why you have decided to limit it in the introduction to your essay, so the reader knows you appreciate the wider issues, but that you can also be selective.
  • If it is a closed question, your answer must refer to and stay within the limits of the question (ie specific dates, texts, or countries).
  • What can you infer from the title about the structure of the essay?

2. Brainstorm for ideas

  • What you know about the topic – from lectures, reading etc
  • What you don't know about the topic, but need to find out to answer the question
  • Possible responses or answers to the question – any ideas about your conclusion.
  • Consider using a mind map to organise your thoughts…

3. Make a plan

  • Planning your essay makes it more likely that you have a coherent argument
  • It enables you to work out a logical structure and an endpoint for your argument before you start writing
  • It means you don't have to do this type of complex thinking at the same time as trying to find the right words to express your ideas
  • It helps you to commit yourself to sticking to the point!

The Hourglass essay

If you're stuck on an overall structure for your essay, try this simple model for organising a typical academic essay. An hourglass essay introduces a broad area, before narrowing the focus towards the specific question that you are answering. It finishes by placing that narrow area back into a wider context. 

Introduction: the funnel of the hourglass

Set the scene and lead your reader into your essay by introducing the broad area of interest and then narrowing towards your specific focus:

  • Start broad with a hook to catch the reader's attention
  • Provide some context for the hook. What does your project add to it?
  • Focus on the narrow area of your essay: can you summarise it in a single sentence mission statement?

Body: the stem of the hourglass

The body of your essay should be as narrow and focused as possible. Body paragraphs will take one sub-topic at a time and provide a logical flow of ideas for your reader:

  • Start each paragraph with a topic sentence to tell your reader what it will cover
  • Fill your paragraph with a range of supporting evidence and examples
  • Finish your paragraph with a final wrapping-up sentence to summarise and/or link ahead

Conclusion: the base of the hourglass

Your chance to reinforce your key messages and go out with a bang:

  • Revisit your mission statement: how have you addressed it?
  • Summarise the main points of your argument or findings
  • Finish with a broader scope, explaining how your topic might inform future research or practice, or where gaps remain

301 Recommends: Essay Planning Template

Use this template (google doc) to plan a structure for your essay, paying particular attention to the ways in which you have broken down the topic into sub-themes for your body paragraphs. 

Top tips and resources

  • Start planning early, leave your plan for a couple of days, and then come back to it. This may give you a fresh perspective.
  • It is often easiest to write the introduction last, but when you are planning your essay structure make sure you have your mission statement.
  • A good plan will make it much easier to write a good essay. Invest the time in making a plan that works.
  • Check what your tutor wants, but it is often best to focus on one element in great detail, rather than discuss several aspects superficially.
  • Make sure you allow time to proofread your work before submission!

Internal resources

  • Library Research and Critical Thinking - Referencing
  • English Language Teaching Centre (ELTC)– Language Resources  

External resources

  • Royal Literary Fund–  Writing Essays
  • University of Reading–  Planning and structuring your essay
  • Cottrell, S (2008) The Study Skills Handbook. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Bailey, S (2003) Academic Writing: A Practical Guide for Students. Routledge
  • Reading University–  Study Resources
  • University of Manchester–  Academic Phrasebank

Related information

Academic Skills Certificate

Scientific writing and lab reports

Proofreading

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This page is the first of two that describe the processes involved in producing an essay for academic purposes, for school, college or university and covers the planning stages of essay writing, which are important to the overall process.

The second page, Writing an Essay , provides more information on the steps involved in actually writing an essay. We recommend you read both pages to gain a full understanding.

Developing the skill of essay writing takes practice, time and patience , your essay writing skills will improve and develop the more you write.

With the help of your course tutor (teacher or lecturer) and peers (other students) and from constructive feedback from the marker of your work, writing an essay will become easier as you progress through your studies and your confidence increases.

This page details general good practice in essay planning, including what you should do and what you should try to avoid. It is important however, that you understand the specific requirements of your school, college or university.

Writing an essay helps you to consider the issues raised in your course and to relate them to your own experience, way of thinking, and also any wider additional reading and research you may have undertaken in order to tackle the essay topic. 

Writing an essay (or other assignment) is an important part of the learning process.  In the writing of an assignment, learning occurs as you think through and interpret the points raised (together with those of other writers on the subject).

Presenting your experience and showing understanding within your assignment will, from the marker's point of view, demonstrate your knowledge of the subject area.

The Purpose of an Essay

The original meaning of an essay is ' an attempt ', or a try, at something. It is therefore appropriate to consider writing an essay as a learning exercise.

Essays, and other academic writing, focus the mind and encourage you to come to conclusions about what you are studying.

Writing is often the best possible way to assimilate and organise information. Writing helps to highlight any areas that you have not fully understood and enables you to make further clarifications. It develops your powers of criticism, analysis and expression, and gives you a chance to try out your and other writers' ideas on the subject.

The feedback you receive from the marker of your essay should help to advance your study skills, writing, research and  critical thinking skills .

What is the Marker Looking For?

As an essay - in the context of this page - is an assessed piece of work, it can be very useful to consider what the person who will be assessing the work, the marker, will be looking for.

Although different types of essays in different subject areas may vary considerably in their style and content there are some key concepts that will help you understand what is required of you and your essay.

When marking an assignment, a marker will look for some of the following elements, which will demonstrate you are able to:

Find relevant information and use the knowledge to focus on the essay question or subject.

Structure knowledge and information logically, clearly and concisely.

Read purposefully and critically. (See our page: Critical Reading for more)

Relate theory to practical examples.

Analyse processes and problems.

Be persuasive and argue a case.

Find links and combine information from a number of different sources.

Answer the Question

One main factor, always worth bearing in mind, is that a marker will usually only award marks for how well you have answered the essay question.

It is likely that the marker will have a set of criteria or marking guidelines that will dictate how many marks can be awarded for each element of your essay.

Remember it is perfectly possible to write an outstanding essay, but not to have answered the original question.  This will, in all likelihood, mean a low mark.

Planning Your Essay

Planning is the process of sorting out what you want to include in your essay.

A well-planned and organised essay indicates that you have your ideas in order; it makes points clearly and logically.  In this way, a well-planned and structured essay enables the reader, or marker, to follow the points being made easily.

Essay assignments are usually formulated in one of the following ways:

As a question

A statement is given and you are asked to comment on it

An invitation to ‘ outline’ , ‘ discuss’ or ‘ critically assess’ a particular argument or point of view

Remember always write your essay based on the question that is set and not on another aspect of the subject. Although this may sound obvious, many students do not fully answer the essay question and include irrelevant information. The primary aim of an academic essay is to answer the task set, in some detail.

To help you do this, you might find the following list of stages helpful.

Producing an Essay Plan

The essay plan below contains ten steps.

It is often useful to complete the first six steps soon after receiving your essay question. That way information will be fresh and you are more likely to be thinking about your essay plan as you do other things.

Study the essay question intently.

Write the essay question out in full.

Spend some time, at least half an hour, brainstorming the subject area.

Write down your thoughts on the question subject, its scope and various aspects.

List words or phrases that you think need to be included.

Note the main points you should include to answer the question.

If, at this point, you feel unsure of what to include, talk to your tutor or a peer to clarify that you are on the right track.

Once you have finished the first six steps and you feel sure you know how to proceed, continue to expand on your initial thoughts and build a more in-depth essay outline.

Skim through any course material or lecture handouts and start to build up a more detailed outline. Scan through your own lecture notes, and if anything strikes you as relevant to the assignment task, write where to find it on your detailed outline

Write down where you will find the necessary information on each of the points in your detailed outline (lecture notes, course handouts etc.).  Indicate on the outline where you feel that some further research is necessary.

Be careful not to allow your outline to become too complicated; stick to main points and keep it relevant to the question.

If you have been given a reading list or a core text book then check the relevant sections of that.

See our page: Sources of Information for more ideas of where you can find relevant information for your essay.

Academic essays usually have a word limit and writing within the word limit is an important consideration. Many institutions will penalise students for not writing the correct amount of words – for example, the essay question may call for a 2,000 word essay, there may be a 10% grace, so anything between 1,800 and 2,200 is acceptable.

Think about the main elements that need to be covered in the essay. Make sure you allocate the greatest number of words to the 'main body of the essay' and not to a subsidiary point.

Decide how much space you can devote to each section of your outline.  For example, a third of a page for the introduction, half a page for point 1 which has two sub-points, one and a half pages for point 2 which has five sub-points etc.  Although you will not follow such a space scheme rigidly, it does enable you to keep things under control and to know how much detail to put in, keeping the balance of the essay as you originally planned.

Of course, you will make minor adjustments to your essay plan as you actually write. However, do not make major adjustments unless you are absolutely certain about the alternative and how it fits into your original scheme.

Having a strong essay plan makes the actual task of writing an essay much more efficient.

Continue to: Writing an Essay Sources of Information

See also: Essay Writing Tips Note-Taking for Reading Finding Time To Study

  • Tips for Reading an Assignment Prompt
  • Asking Analytical Questions
  • Introductions
  • What Do Introductions Across the Disciplines Have in Common?
  • Anatomy of a Body Paragraph
  • Transitions
  • Tips for Organizing Your Essay
  • Counterargument
  • Conclusions
  • Strategies for Essay Writing: Downloadable PDFs
  • Brief Guides to Writing in the Disciplines
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  • Link to linkedin
  • Link to twitter
  • Link to youtube
  • Writing Tips

How to Write a Perfect Essay Plan

How to Write a Perfect Essay Plan

4-minute read

  • 9th December 2019

Every good essay starts with a good essay plan. And planning your essay is important, as it will help you express each point you need to make clearly and in a logical order. But what goes into a good essay plan? And how can you write one? Join us for a quick look at how this works.

1. Read the Question Closely

The first step in any essay plan is to look at the question you’ve been set. It should provide some clue as to the kind of essay required, such as whether it is an open or closed question . These differ as follows:

  • An open question permits various answers. For instance, if you were set an English literature essay, you might be asked What are the main social themes in the writing of Charles Dickens? This would allow you to discuss a range of concepts in response. Writing you essay plan would then involve narrowing down your subject matter so you can focus on one issue.
  • A closed question focuses on a specific issue, often asking you to agree or disagree with something. For instance, a closed question could be Is technology a destructive force in the writing of Charles Dickens? In this case, the question dictates the form of the essay, as you would need to look at arguments for and against the claim and, finally, come to a conclusion.

Keep in mind that both question types require an in-depth answer! Some closed questions could technically be answered by writing ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ on a piece of paper, but this won’t get you great marks. Instead, think of the question as a prompt for you to show off what you know on the topic.

And if you’re not sure about anything, such as how a question is worded, you will want to check this with whomever set the assignment.

2. Brainstorm Ideas and Organise Your Research

After studying the essay question, the next step is to brainstorm ideas for answering it. And the starting point for this is to organise your research.

In other words, it’s time to get out those lecture notes! In fact, you should make a mind map of everything you know on the essay topic.

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A mind map about mind maps. Very meta.

Look for anything that is relevant to the essay question. You can then narrow down the possible answers to the topics that interest you most. This should also help you identify any gaps in your knowledge, so you can make notes on what else you may need to research for your essay.

3. Draft an Essay Outline

The last step in writing an essay plan is to outline your essay. This means breaking it down section by section, paragraph by paragraph, so you know exactly what you need to write to answer the essay question.

The exact content will depend on the topic and word count . But, as a rule, most essays will have a basic structure along the following lines:

  • Introduction – A paragraph or two that sets out your main argument.
  • Main Body – This is the main chunk of your essay. To plan this, break down your argument into paragraphs or sections, sticking to one main idea per paragraph. Once you’ve done this, note down how each point supports your argument, plus any quotes or examples you will use.
  • Conclusion – A brief summary of your arguments and evidence.
  • References – A list of sources you plan to use in your essay.

This will then guide the writing process, making sure you always stay on topic.

Expert Essay Proofreading

Planning your essay is just the first step: you then need to write it! And to make sure it’s the best it can be, you’ll want to have it proofread . Our expert editors can help with that, making sure that your writing is always academic in tone and completely error free. Just let us know how we can help!

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  • How to Write a Great Essay for Different A-Level Subjects

Image shows an open notebook with a pen resting on it.

In previous articles, we’ve given you lots of advice on how to write the perfect essay.

You should also read…

  • 6 Practical Tips for Writing Better Essays
  • How to Do Research for an Excellent Essay

However, the skills we’ve discussed up to now have been generic, and have not taken into account the fact that different subjects require different skills when it comes to writing excellent essays for them. In this article, we look at the particular skills needed to write great essays for individual A-level subjects, so that you can familiarise yourself with what you need to do to excel in whatever A-levels you happen to be studying.

Image shows a painting of a house on the moors.

Good English literature essays revolve around intelligent interpretation. The problem many students have with this is organising their interpretations into a tightly structured essay that flows well; many simply let their ideas run wild and flit aimlessly between one point and the next. To combat this problem, you need to consider the writer’s overall aims and then show how they have conveyed those aims, paragraph by paragraph, with each paragraph devoted to a particular technique or focus. A good structure to use is as follows:

  • Point – make a statement, such as “Brontë uses the bleakness of the moorland setting to reflect Heathcliff’s temperament.”
  • Explanation – elaborate on the statement in more detail. In this example, your explanation would involve explaining the parallels between Heathcliff and the moors – their unpredictability and wildness, for instance, and the violence of the weather mirroring Heathcliff’s violent personality.
  • Evidence – now provide quotes from the text to back up what you mean. In the Heathcliff example, you could quote specific words and phrases that show similarities in the way Heathcliff is described and the way in which the moorland landscape and weather are described.
  • Reiterate – close off the paragraph by reiterating the point, and perhaps developing it a little further or introducing the idea you’re going to carry into the next paragraph. For example, “This ties in with a wider theme running through the book as a whole, which is that nature parallels human emotions.”

Good English essays pay close attention to detail, noting specific words, phrases and literary devices a writer has used, and to what effect. They quote liberally from the text in order to support each point, deconstructing the writing and analysing the use of language; they look at different interpretations, seeing beyond the surface and picking up on possible deeper meanings and connotations. But they also consider the meaning of the piece as a whole, and the overall effect created by the specific details noted. All this should be considered within the framework of the genre and context of the piece of writing. For instance, a poem by William Wordsworth would be considered within the context of the Romantic poets, and might be compared with work by contemporary poets such as Shelley or Keats; the historical background might also be touched upon where relevant (such as the Industrial Revolution when discussing the poetry of William Blake).

Image shows a painting of Luther at the Diet of Worms.

Though it’s also a humanities subject, History requires its own very particular set of skills that differ to an appreciable degree from those expected of you in English. A history essay is unequivocal about its writer’s opinion, but this opinion must be based on a solid analysis of evidence that very often can’t be taken as fact. Evidence must be discussed in terms of its reliability, or lack thereof. The good historian considers what biases may be inherent in a source, what vested interest the source might have, and what viewpoint that source was written from. For instance, you might analyse a source by discussing whether or not the person was present at the events they are describing; how long after the events they were writing (and therefore whether they are remembering it accurately if they were there, or whether they are getting their information second or third hand from someone else; and if so, how reliable the original source is); whether they are trying to show evidence to support a particular political view; and so on. So, each time you make a point, back it up with evidence, and consider the strengths and weaknesses of that evidence. A good history essay makes connections between what’s been written about, considering how issues interrelate, so think about how what you’re writing about ties in with other things; what was the impact of the event you’re discussing, did it happen in isolation, and what were the events that led to it ?

Image shows a painting of workers in a factory.

It’s vital to look at both sides of the argument – or, where many possible viewpoints exist, to acknowledge these nuances. It’s fine to contradict yourself, provided you do so consciously; that is, you can build up an argument and then turn it on its head, observing that you are doing so (for example, “So far, so compelling; but what about the less well-known evidence from such and such?”). You can use quotes from historians you’ve read, but use these in the context of discussing scholarly opinion. Don’t quote a historian’s words as evidence of something, because this is only someone’s opinion – it’s not proof. Finally, where possible, use specialist terms to show that you know your stuff (“proletariat” instead of “workers”, for example).

The primary task that lies ahead of you in writing a French essay is, of course, to demonstrate your superior language skills. Keep the content itself very even-handed, sitting on the fence rather than presenting a forceful opinion that could distract attention away from the quality of your use of French. Focus on using as wide a variety of vocabulary and tenses as you can. It will help your essay if you can learn how to say more sophisticated phrases in French, of the sort you would use if you were writing an essay in English. This useful document from RealFrench.net, Writing Essays in French, will give you numerous useful French phrases to help you put together an impressive essay, including the vocabulary you need to present a balanced argument.

Image shows the contrast between old buildings and skyscrapers in the Philippines.

Geography is a subject that crosses the divide between the sciences and the humanities , considering both physical processes and human activities (and their effects on the world around us). Essays for Geography may differ depending on which of these focuses the essay is discussing, and the evidence you might include in your essay could vary from phenomena observed and data gathered in the natural world to the results of population censuses. To write a good Geography essay, you’ll need to include both theory and detailed, real-world case studies to support your answer. Mention specific places by name, and communicate the facts accurately. Your teacher will be assessing not just your knowledge, but your ability to support what you say with relevant information that proves it. You shouldn’t just rattle off everything you know about a particular case study; you should deploy relevant facts from the case study to support a specific point you’re trying to make. Keep linking each point back to the question, so that you’re always working towards answering it; this also helps you ensure that everything you include is actually relevant to the question. Showing that you’ve thought about an issue from multiple perspectives, and that you appreciate how they interrelate, is important in Geography. You can do this by organising the content of your essay into categories, considering different factors in turn, such as the scale of the issue, and the timeframe and environment involved. Discuss the various factors involved logically, one by one, such as the environmental impact of climate change or a natural disaster (such as a tsunami or volcanic eruption), followed by its physical, economic, social and political implications. Acknowledging the numerous nuances of the situation will demonstrate your appreciation of its complexity and show that you are thinking at a high level.

Classical Civilisations

Image shows a close-up of the Charioteer of Delphi.

As the study of the ancient world (primarily ancient Rome and Greece), Classical Civilisations combines archaeology and history, looking both at what survives materially (from small finds, to art and sculpture, to temples) and what survives in the way of texts by ancient authors. A good essay for this subject analyses, evaluates and interprets. The historical elements of the subject will require the same set of skills we discussed for History earlier, while the archaeological components of this subject require slightly different skills. With your archaeologist hat on, your job becomes similar to that of a detective, piecing together clues. Archaeology crosses over into science, and with that comes scientific considerations such as how archaeological evidence has been gathered – the methods used, their reliability, whether or not they could have been tampered with, how accurately they were recorded, and so on. You’ll look at a variety of different types of evidence, too, from the finds themselves to maps of the local topography. As with Geography, for which you’re required to learn lots of detailed case studies and names, you’ll need to learn plenty of examples of sites and finds to use as sources of evidence in building up a picture of the ancient world. And, as with any subject, looking at both sides of any argument is crucial to good grades. If the evidence you’re discussing could show one thing, but it could also show another, don’t just present one possibility – show that you’ve thought in depth about it and consider all the possible interpretations.

Science subjects

Image shows the Hubble Space Telescope.

The sciences – Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics – are generally less essay-focused, so we’re grouping them together here because the essay skills required for each of these subjects are very similar. While the fundamentals of scientific essay writing are the same as any other subject – having a logical structure, well-developed argument, and so on – there are a few subject-specific considerations to bear in mind, and some common pitfalls to watch out for. The first is that there is no room for opinion in a scientific essay; unless you’re specifically asked for it, leave your own thoughts out of it and focus instead on a completely objective discussion of the evidence gathered through scientific research, which will most probably be quantitative data. Avoid vague language such as “it is thought that…”; be as precise as possible. Start with a hypothesis, and then discuss the research that supports or disproves it. Back up every statement you make with solid data; it’s not enough simply to drop in the name of the research, so briefly describe what the findings were and why they prove the statement you’ve just made. Another mistake many students make is to confuse cause and effect; this arises because of the tendency to assume that correlation implies causation, which is a common logical fallacy. Just because two things appear to be related, it doesn’t mean that one caused the other, and committing this error in an essay is a major faux pas that will lose you marks. It’s also a good idea to ensure that you’ve included every piece of research that could be relevant; if you don’t, you could be leaving out a crucial piece of evidence. Finally, mention any limitations there may have been with the methodology used to gather the data you discuss.

Image shows a hand squeezing a stress ball.

Psychology essays are best approached with a scientific mindset, but it’s far more difficult to prove anything in this subject – and this should be acknowledged in your essay. The task becomes one of assessing which theory is the more probable one, based on an analysis of the data from various studies. Make liberal reference to named and dated psychological experiments and research, but acknowledge the fact that there may be more than one theory that could account for the same set of results. When these experiments are quoted as evidence, this should be done with reference to any possible limitations of how the experiment was conducted (such as a small sample size). If you’ve reached the end of this article, you’re now equipped with the knowledge to write fantastic essays guaranteed to impress your teachers. You’re also well on the way to thinking in the right way for university-level essays, so keep working on these skills now and you’ll find it much easier to make the leap from sixth former to undergraduate.

Image credits: banner ; Wuthering Heights ; Diet of Worms ; factory workers ; Charioteer ; Hubble Space Telescope ; Psychology . 

Resources you can trust

Essay planning

Essay planning

An excellent, student-friendly guide for A-level students about the benefits of essay planning, and covering all the stages of planning. Includes detailed guidance on how to approach a KS5 essay question or title and how to identify the key or command words of the question. 

An extract from the lesson worksheet: 

The stages of essay planning

There are definite stages to planning an essay which are as important to follow for coursework essays as for essays written in exam conditions. 

  • Read the question (several times).
  • Identify the key words in the question and underline them.
  • Explore these key words.
  • Write a plan which addresses these key words and orders your ideas.
  • Start writing your essay and refer regularly to your plan.

Considering the title

Essay titles are generally framed in the same kind of way.  You may be asked to discuss, consider or explore a text or a particular aspect of it.  You may be asked what you think about an aspect of a text or you may be invited to consider the validity of a particular statement about a text.  You could also be asked to compare and contrast two or more texts.

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Essay and dissertation writing skills

Planning your essay

Writing your introduction

Structuring your essay

  • Writing essays in science subjects
  • Brief video guides to support essay planning and writing
  • Writing extended essays and dissertations
  • Planning your dissertation writing time

Structuring your dissertation

  • Top tips for writing longer pieces of work

Advice on planning and writing essays and dissertations

University essays differ from school essays in that they are less concerned with what you know and more concerned with how you construct an argument to answer the question. This means that the starting point for writing a strong essay is to first unpick the question and to then use this to plan your essay before you start putting pen to paper (or finger to keyboard).

A really good starting point for you are these short, downloadable Tips for Successful Essay Writing and Answering the Question resources. Both resources will help you to plan your essay, as well as giving you guidance on how to distinguish between different sorts of essay questions. 

You may find it helpful to watch this seven-minute video on six tips for essay writing which outlines how to interpret essay questions, as well as giving advice on planning and structuring your writing:

Different disciplines will have different expectations for essay structure and you should always refer to your Faculty or Department student handbook or course Canvas site for more specific guidance.

However, broadly speaking, all essays share the following features:

Essays need an introduction to establish and focus the parameters of the discussion that will follow. You may find it helpful to divide the introduction into areas to demonstrate your breadth and engagement with the essay question. You might define specific terms in the introduction to show your engagement with the essay question; for example, ‘This is a large topic which has been variously discussed by many scientists and commentators. The principle tension is between the views of X and Y who define the main issues as…’ Breadth might be demonstrated by showing the range of viewpoints from which the essay question could be considered; for example, ‘A variety of factors including economic, social and political, influence A and B. This essay will focus on the social and economic aspects, with particular emphasis on…..’

Watch this two-minute video to learn more about how to plan and structure an introduction:

The main body of the essay should elaborate on the issues raised in the introduction and develop an argument(s) that answers the question. It should consist of a number of self-contained paragraphs each of which makes a specific point and provides some form of evidence to support the argument being made. Remember that a clear argument requires that each paragraph explicitly relates back to the essay question or the developing argument.

  • Conclusion: An essay should end with a conclusion that reiterates the argument in light of the evidence you have provided; you shouldn’t use the conclusion to introduce new information.
  • References: You need to include references to the materials you’ve used to write your essay. These might be in the form of footnotes, in-text citations, or a bibliography at the end. Different systems exist for citing references and different disciplines will use various approaches to citation. Ask your tutor which method(s) you should be using for your essay and also consult your Department or Faculty webpages for specific guidance in your discipline. 

Essay writing in science subjects

If you are writing an essay for a science subject you may need to consider additional areas, such as how to present data or diagrams. This five-minute video gives you some advice on how to approach your reading list, planning which information to include in your answer and how to write for your scientific audience – the video is available here:

A PDF providing further guidance on writing science essays for tutorials is available to download.

Short videos to support your essay writing skills

There are many other resources at Oxford that can help support your essay writing skills and if you are short on time, the Oxford Study Skills Centre has produced a number of short (2-minute) videos covering different aspects of essay writing, including:

  • Approaching different types of essay questions  
  • Structuring your essay  
  • Writing an introduction  
  • Making use of evidence in your essay writing  
  • Writing your conclusion

Extended essays and dissertations

Longer pieces of writing like extended essays and dissertations may seem like quite a challenge from your regular essay writing. The important point is to start with a plan and to focus on what the question is asking. A PDF providing further guidance on planning Humanities and Social Science dissertations is available to download.

Planning your time effectively

Try not to leave the writing until close to your deadline, instead start as soon as you have some ideas to put down onto paper. Your early drafts may never end up in the final work, but the work of committing your ideas to paper helps to formulate not only your ideas, but the method of structuring your writing to read well and conclude firmly.

Although many students and tutors will say that the introduction is often written last, it is a good idea to begin to think about what will go into it early on. For example, the first draft of your introduction should set out your argument, the information you have, and your methods, and it should give a structure to the chapters and sections you will write. Your introduction will probably change as time goes on but it will stand as a guide to your entire extended essay or dissertation and it will help you to keep focused.

The structure of  extended essays or dissertations will vary depending on the question and discipline, but may include some or all of the following:

  • The background information to - and context for - your research. This often takes the form of a literature review.
  • Explanation of the focus of your work.
  • Explanation of the value of this work to scholarship on the topic.
  • List of the aims and objectives of the work and also the issues which will not be covered because they are outside its scope.

The main body of your extended essay or dissertation will probably include your methodology, the results of research, and your argument(s) based on your findings.

The conclusion is to summarise the value your research has added to the topic, and any further lines of research you would undertake given more time or resources. 

Tips on writing longer pieces of work

Approaching each chapter of a dissertation as a shorter essay can make the task of writing a dissertation seem less overwhelming. Each chapter will have an introduction, a main body where the argument is developed and substantiated with evidence, and a conclusion to tie things together. Unlike in a regular essay, chapter conclusions may also introduce the chapter that will follow, indicating how the chapters are connected to one another and how the argument will develop through your dissertation.

For further guidance, watch this two-minute video on writing longer pieces of work . 

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How to master A Level Geography 20-mark essay questions

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How to master A Level Geography 20-mark essay questions

What should I do before attempting an A Level Geography 20-mark essay question?

Should i plan an a level geography 20-mark essay, how should i structure an a level geography 20-mark essay.

As we run up to exam season, many of you will now be completing your NEAs (non-examined assessment) and exam content, and starting to focus on exam technique. You may be thinking about how you will tackle the dreaded 20-mark essay questions . Essay questions are very much like marmite for students. Some love them as they get the chance to explore key geographic theories and showcase their knowledge and understanding, which may not be possible in lower-stakes questions. However, others may struggle to formulate their geographic ideas or structure them in a way that makes a convincing argument.

In my experience, all A Level geography students must be systematic and structured in the way they write their long-form answers. This approach ensures that students cover all the necessary content while also demonstrating the geographic skills that examiners are assessing.

Examiners use both AO1 and AO2 to evaluate students in essay questions. AO1 requires students to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of places, environments, concepts, processes, interactions and change at various scales. AO2 deals with the application of knowledge and understanding in different contexts to interpret, analyse, and evaluate geographical information and issues. The strongest students can produce answers that balance the two aspects in their responses. If you weigh your answers too far toward knowledge recall and simply state facts, figures, and case study knowledge without doing anything with the knowledge (this is where command words are essential), you will not be able to achieve the highest levels described in the level descriptors.

Before you attempt essay questions, I suggest you take a look at the mark schemes for some past paper questions. It is important to focus on the level descriptors as these are what the examiners will use to assess your answers. Pay attention to the language they use to describe what they are looking for, and when you start your attempts, consider whether your language and writing style match the descriptors. The exam board mark schemes are available on the PMT A Level Geography past papers webpage .

Another place to look before attempting essay questions is the assessed sample answers produced by the exam boards (e.g. AQA Paper 1 Hazards Example Responses ). These are available on the exam board websites and show a range of pupil responses to exam questions. They come with a helpful commentary that explains how the pupils gained marks, highlights the importance of a well-structured response, and provides insight into what examiners are looking for when assessing your answers.

Creating writing lesson.

Where to start – command words

As mentioned above, it is very important for students to be systematic in their approach to answering 20 markers. The first thing students need to understand is the command word . Without knowledge of what the command word means and what it is asking you to do, you will not be able to fully engage with the question. To find out the meaning of different command words , you should visit your exam board’s website and look in the specification.

Essay questions tend to use the command words “to what extent” or “assess” . According to AQA, if the question includes the “to what extent” command word, you should “Consider several options, ideas or arguments and come to a conclusion about their importance/success/worth”. On the other hand, if it is an “assess” question, you should “use evidence to weigh up the options to determine the relative significance of something. Give balanced consideration to all factors and identify which are the most important.”

BUG the question

Command words can help guide you in how to structure your answers and the skills you need to exhibit. During KS3 and KS4, you may have been told to BUG the question, where B stands for box the command work , U for underline key terms , and G for glance back at the question .

I would encourage all A Level students to continue to use this strategy, even for longer essay questions. It will help ensure that you are answering the question you are being asked, rather than the question you wish you were being asked.

Failure to prepare is preparing to fail.

It is crucial for all students to plan their essay writing before they start answering a question. An essay question requires you to write for a sustained period, and if you don’t have a clear plan for what you’re going to write, you may lose focus on your points and arguments and not fully answer the question.

I suggest that all A Level students write a brief plan before attempting the question . This plan should outline the introduction, including key terms to define and any case studies to introduce, the main argument in each of your paragraphs, and finally, the contents of your conclusion. Spending just five minutes on this will save you time in the long run and help keep you on track to answering the question fully.

Students in uniform sitting an exam in the school hall.

A good structure is key to success in essay writing. A clear structure enables you to answer the question coherently and reduces the chance that you will lose the key focus of your points. All of the exam boards recommend following the structure outlined below:

Introduction

  • Main body of the answer (three to four key arguments)

In academia, this is sometimes known as the hourglass essay . An hourglass essay starts with a big idea, narrows down to a specific question, and then widens back out to explain why that specific question is important in the grand scheme of things.

The introduction of your essay should account for approximately 10% of the total essay length , and it’s an excellent opportunity for you to impress the examiner. Your essay introduction should give a broad view of the essay themes and provide a definition of the key terms that you have underlined in your question. It is also the place to introduce a case study location . A strong start to your essay is crucial as it demonstrates to the examiner that you have a clear understanding of the geographic content you’ve been studying.

Once you have written your introduction, you can then get on to answering the questions. While the introduction mainly covers AO1 (knowledge and understanding of geography), the main body of your answer should cover both AO1 and AO2 (analysis and evaluation in the application of knowledge and understanding).

As before, the way you structure the main body of your answer is very important, and you must form your points clearly and coherently. During my teaching and tutoring, I have seen many ways of forming these arguments/points, but the two most effective methods I have seen are using PEEL or PEACE paragraphs .

  • E xplanation
  • A pplication

Teacher teaching creating writing skills.

Everyone is different, and everyone has their unique writing style. My advice to all A Level students is to try both methods when beginning to tackle essay questions and determine which one works best for you. I would also recommend completing PEEL/PEACE paragraphs and asking for feedback from your teacher or tutor.

The main body of the essay should consist of three to four arguments that cover the views for the specific question. Those who can link back to the question but also between their paragraphs will have the best chance of performing well in their essay questions.

After completing the main body, you now need to finish your essay with a conclusion. Just like the introduction, this should be roughly 10% of the total essay length . The main aim of the conclusion is to bring your essay to a close and essentially answer the question you have been asked. In the conclusion, you should summarise your argument and avoid introducing any new information . It is simply a chance to express your own thoughts and opinions while bringing your essay to a close.

The quality of a conclusion is often a key indicator of the overall quality of an essay. Although it is a short section of the whole piece of writing, it provides a platform to showcase several important geographic skills such as analysis, summarising, and creating synoptic links .

Overall, it is very important that you give yourself enough time to complete your essay questions during your examinations and that you follow the structures discussed above. If you follow these guidelines, you will see an improvement in the quality of your essay responses.

If you’re in Year 13 and in need of additional help, PMT Education runs Geography A Level Easter Crash Courses for AQA and Edexcel . Whether you need support with exam technique or want to revise key sections of the syllabus with the help of an experienced tutor, these courses will equip you with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to excel in your summer exams.

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Dave is a qualified teacher with 10 years of experience teaching GCSE and A Level Geography. He has worked as an assistant faculty leader for Humanities and a professional mentor for new and trainee teachers. He has also been involved with the supervision and guidance of NEAs. Dave currently works in higher education and trains geography teachers across the North West of England. He is also a tutor at PMT Education , with experience running highly successful geography courses.

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Pass History Exams

A Level History Essay Structure – A Guide

  • Post author By admin
  • Post date December 1, 2022
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Getting an A Level History essay structure right is by no means an easy task. In this post we will look at how we can build a structure from which our essay can develop.

A level History Essay Structure - Simple

Here you can see the most simplified essay structure for tackling A level History essays. All students should be familiar with this structure. We have broken the essay down into an introduction and conclusion as well as 3 separate parts of content. Running through the entire essay at the side is our line of argument. Whilst this may seem fairly simple, many students still fail to adequately follow this structure, when writing essay answers under exam conditions.

The reasons this structure works well is that it enables you to cover 3 different factors of content. These can be aligned 2-1 or 1-2 on either side of the argument. Your essay is now balanced (covering both sides of the argument), whilst at the same time being decisive in terms of your line of argument and judgement. It is also consistent with the amount you can write in the exam time given for (20-25) mark essay questions.

Expanded A level History Essay Structure

how to plan an a level essay

Let’s look at an expanded essay structure. Again, we have our introduction and conclusion as well as 3 separate parts of content. Now we can see that we have added whether or not each of our parts of content agrees or disagrees with the question premise. In order to have a balanced essay we can see on this example that; Content 1 agrees, Content 2 disagrees, and Content 3 can go either way. This overall A Level History essay structure ensures a balanced essay that also reaches judgement.

Furthermore, we have now broken down each individual part of Content/Factor. This can be seen as a mini essay in its own right. The Content/Factor is introduced and linked to the question as well as being concluded and linked to the question. Then we write 2 to 3 separate points within the body of the Content/Factor. We have 2 points that agree with the overall argument of this section of content. This strongly backs up our argument.

Then we can also potentially (this doesn’t have to be done always, but when done right creates a more nuanced analysis) add a third point that balances that particular section of content. However, it doesn’t detract from the overall argument of this factor/content. E.g. In the short term ‘point 3’ occurred but of much greater significance was ‘point 1’ and ‘point 2.’

How To Improve Further at A Level History

Pass A Level History – is our sister site, which shows you step by step, how to most effectively answer any A Level History extract, source or essay question. Please click the following link to visit the site and get access to your free preview lesson. www.passalevelhistory.co.uk

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Last updated 17 Dec 2019

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This series of resources provides revision essay plans for a wide variety of essay topics, including synoptic questions.

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U.S. Plan to Protect Oceans Has a Problem, Some Say: Too Much Fishing

An effort to protect 30 percent of land and waters would count some commercial fishing zones as conserved areas.

A fishing trawler, seen in silhouette at some distance, cruising with outriggers extended.

By Catrin Einhorn

New details of the Biden administration’s signature conservation effort, made public this month amid a burst of other environmental announcements, have alarmed some scientists who study marine protected areas because the plan would count certain commercial fishing zones as conserved.

The decision could have ripple effects around the world as nations work toward fulfilling a broader global commitment to safeguard 30 percent of the entire planet’s land, inland waters and seas. That effort has been hailed as historic, but the critical question of what, exactly, counts as conserved is still being decided.

This early answer from the Biden administration is worrying, researchers say, because high-impact commercial fishing is incompatible with the goals of the efforts.

“Saying that these areas that are touted to be for biodiversity conservation should also do double duty for fishing as well, especially highly impactful gears that are for large-scale commercial take, there’s just a cognitive dissonance there,” said Kirsten Grorud-Colvert, a marine biologist at Oregon State University who led a group of scientists that in 2021 published a guide for evaluating marine protected areas .

The debate is unfolding amid a global biodiversity crisis that is speeding extinctions and eroding ecosystems, according to a landmark intergovernmental assessment . As the natural world degrades, its ability to give humans essentials like food and clean water also diminishes. The primary driver of biodiversity declines in the ocean, the assessment found, is overfishing. Climate change is an additional and ever-worsening threat.

Fish are an important source of nutrition for billions of people around the world. Research shows that effectively conserving key areas is an key tool to keep stocks healthy while also protecting other ocean life.

Nations are watching to see how the United States enacts its protections.

The American approach is specific because the broader plan falls under the United Nations biodiversity treaty, which the United States has never ratified. The effort in the United States is happening under a 2021 executive order by President Biden.

Still, the United States, a powerful donor country, exerts considerable influence on the sidelines of the U.N. talks. Both the American and international efforts are known as 30x30.

On April 19, federal officials launched a new website updating the public on their 30x30 efforts. They did not indicate how much land was currently conserved (beyond approximately 13 percent of permanently protected federal lands), stating that they needed to better understand what was happening at the state, tribal and private levels. But they announced a number for the ocean: about a third of U.S. marine areas are currently conserved, the website said.

The problem, according to scientists, is how the Biden administration arrived at that figure.

Everyone seems to agree that the highly protected areas classified as marine national monuments should count as conserved, and they did: four in the Pacific around Hawaii, Guam and American Samoa that were set up and expanded between 2006 and 2016; and one in the Atlantic southeast of Cape Cod, designated in 2016. A vast area of the Arctic where commercial fishing is banned was also included, with wide agreement.

But other places on the list should not be counted unless protections there are tightened, said Lance Morgan, a marine biologist and president of the Marine Conservation Institute, a nonprofit group that maintains a global map of the ocean’s protected areas.

For example, 15 National Marine Sanctuaries are included. While these areas typically restrict activities like oil and gas drilling, they do not require reduced quotas of commercial fishing. High-impact fishing techniques like bottom trawling, which damages seafloor habitat and captures vast amounts of fish, are prohibited in certain sanctuaries but permitted in others.

Also included on the list are “deep sea coral protection areas” that ban seafloor fishing like bottom trawling, but not some other commercial fishing methods.

“Much more effort should be focused on improving the National Marine Sanctuary program and ensuring that new areas being created provide conservation benefits and ban commercial fishing methods like bottom trawling and long-lining,” Dr. Morgan said.

Senior officials with the Biden administration emphasized that ocean work under 30x30 was far from over. Very little of the conserved marine area is near the continental United States, for example, and one of the administration’s priorities is adding places there to make the effort more geographically representative.

But they defended the decision to include areas that allow commercial fishing. Despite the high-impact gear, national marine sanctuaries have long been considered protected areas by the United Nations, they pointed out. More generally, they said, the administration weighed various approaches to defining what it would count.

For example, while an atlas of marine protected areas maintained by Dr. Morgan’s group considers 25 percent of American waters to be conserved, the U.S. Fishery Management Councils puts that number at more than 72 percent . Administration officials said their number reflected important conservation work by a variety of agencies and stakeholders.

“We do have very highly regulated fisheries in the U.S.,” said Matt Lee-Ashley, the chief of staff at the White House Council on Environmental Quality, which is helping to coordinate the 30x30 effort. “And so, our domestic definition of conservation may be a little bit different, and other countries’ definitions may be a little bit different.”

Even though the United States has not ratified the biodiversity treaty, it will still submit a conservation total to be counted toward the global 30x30 commitment. Officials said they were still weighing which areas to submit.

In a statement, representatives of the Fishery Management Councils praised the inclusion of commercial fishing areas, noting that they are managed under “very stringent sustainability and conservation standards.”

But sustainably managed commercial fishing is what should be happening in the rest of the ocean, said Enric Sala, a marine biologist who studies and advocates for marine protected areas. Allowing commercial fishing in places conserved under 30x30, he said, is “padding the numbers.”

“People are looking up to the U.S.,” Dr. Sala, who is originally from Spain, said. “That sends a really bad signal.”

Catrin Einhorn covers biodiversity, climate and the environment for The Times. More about Catrin Einhorn

Letter: Feminist Mormon women wrote an open letter to the LDS Church in the 1970s. Here’s what it teaches us going forward.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) LDS leaders Henry B. Eyring and Dieter F. Uchtdorf shake hands with leaders at the General Women's Session of the 187th Semiannual General Conference of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in Salt Lake City, Saturday September 23, 2017.

Recently, an area authority’s opposition to women sitting on the stand prompted a letter in response, signed by almost 3,000 members of the church, and a quote from President J. Annette Dennis during the recent women’s conference prompted over 17,000 comments on Instagram. These events highlight a simple truth: Many mainstream Latter-day saint women are fed up with the church’s continued and blatant gender discrimination.

This is not the first, nor the last time that women have mobilized to express their frustrations to the church about their second-class status.

In 1979, the Alice Reynolds Forum , a group of feminist Mormon women concerned by the church’s aggressive stance against the women’s movement, wrote a letter to Spencer W. Kimball, part of which stated, “As daughters of Zion we had expected to be trusted to perceive our own particular truths. That we are seen by the brethren as having no discrimination cuts deep.” They gave anecdotes of women losing responsibilities in their congregations due to their feminist leanings, an issue that still exists in many wards today.

Today, I echo the forum’s plea to the church: “We desperately need to know whether after serious consideration, soul-searching and prayer you find us unworthy…and ultimately expendable.”

Similar to the church’s response to the recent Instagram comments, the church acknowledged that the letter was received, but refused to engage with the complaints. Three months later, then BYU president Dallin H. Oaks banned the forum from meeting on BYU campus. However, the women kept meeting and discussing their desires for the church, paving the way for women to speak up today.

Perhaps we can learn from our religious foremothers and follow their example by creating spaces to speak up, whether church leaders are ready to hear that criticism or not.

Emily Peterson, Salt Lake City

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Donate to the newsroom now. The Salt Lake Tribune, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) public charity and contributions are tax deductible

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Biden administration plans to drastically change federal rules on marijuana

The Biden administration is poised to make a landmark change to the federal government's position on marijuana with a proposed plan that would no longer consider marijuana among the most dangerous and addictive substances . 

In what would be the biggest change in marijuana policy the federal government has taken since pot was first outlawed, the Drug Enforcement Administration will take public comments on a plan to recategorize marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act, according to a source familiar with the process. The news was first reported by The Associated Press .

The Department of Justice will send its recommendation to reclassify marijuana from a Schedule I drug to a Schedule III drug to the White House Office of Management and Budget, according to the source, who was not authorized to speak publicly. The Justice Department is expected to transmit the recommendation today, the source said.

More: Trucker failed drug test after taking CBD supplement. Supreme Court to decide if he can sue

The plan wouldn't legalize marijuana at the federal level outright, but it would reclassify it from a Schedule I drug – believed highly dangerous, addictive and without medical use – to a Schedule III drug that can be lawfully prescribed as medication. Marijuana has been a Schedule I drug since the Controlled Substances Act was signed in 1970.

“It is significant for these federal agencies, and the DEA and FDA in particular, to acknowledge publicly for the first time what many patients and advocates have known for decades: that cannabis is a safe and effective therapeutic agent for tens of millions of Americans," said Paul Armentano, deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML, which advocates for cannabis to be removed altogether from the list of controlled substances.

This bureaucratic move is only a small step toward what advocates hope will be full legalization of the drug. However, the new proposed classification does not fully address the inconsistencies between federal restrictions and the laws in a growing number of states that have authorized medical and recreational use of pot. 

Twenty-four states and Washington, D.C., have legalized the recreational use of marijuana, and 14 other states authorize it for medical use, according to the Pew Research Center .

“Rescheduling the cannabis plant to Schedule III fails to adequately address this conflict, as existing state legalization laws – both adult use and medical – will continue to be in conflict with federal regulations, thereby perpetuating the existing divide between state and federal marijuana policies," Armentano said in a statement.

The federal proposal to reschedule marijuana would have broad support among voters. A nationwide survey last fall commissioned by the Coalition for Cannabis Scheduling Reform found nearly 60% of likely voters supported rescheduling, with 65% of younger voters 18 to 25 favoring it, the highest of any demographic group polled. Overall, the number of Americans who think marijuana should be legal reached a record high at 70%, according to a Gallup poll in the fall.

For decades, marijuana has been listed under the Controlled Substances Act as a Schedule I drug, alongside heroin, LSD and ecstasy. The act categorizes drugs based on their potential for abuse, addiction and medical use. Schedule I drugs are outlawed under federal law level and deemed to be without accepted medical use. 

In 2022, President Joe Biden directed the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct a review of how marijuana is classified; and last year HHS recommended it be rescheduled to Schedule III, alongside drugs like Tylenol with codeine and anabolic steroids. The Justice Department did its own analysis and reached the same conclusion, the source said.

The proposal will undergo a public review period; the source did not say when the proposed rule would be open to public comment.

Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., has previously criticized federal efforts to change Marijuana's classification . Harris was a physician at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, according to his online biography .

"Removing restrictions on an addictive gateway drug like Marijuana is a dangerous mistake. Numerous studies, including a recent and reputable study published by JAMA, points to the negative impact recreational marijuana has on the body and brain," Harris said in a Tuesday social media post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Experts previously told USA TODAY that marijuana’s placement on Schedule I was not based on credible scientific evidence of its perils, but once it was listed, researchers and advocates faced a heavy burden trying to prove it shouldn’t face such stiff restrictions. 

What exactly does rescheduling cannabis mean?

Placing marijuana in Schedule III puts it on par with drugs, such as ketamine, testosterone, anabolic steroids or Tylenol with codeine, that have “moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence,” according to the DEA.

Schedule III drugs can be legally prescribed by licensed health care providers and dispensed by licensed pharmacies. Rescheduling could also help resolve a massive federal tax burden that has been placed on cannabis companies – which were effectively seen as drug traffickers for tax purposes.

But rescheduling marijuana doesn’t make it legal to use recreationally, and it doesn’t change much about current state cannabis programs, said Jay Wexler, who teaches a seminar about marijuana laws at Boston University. It would still a controlled substance even with the new announcement

Wexler and other policy experts and advocates say rescheduling is not a solution, but it could be a sign the federal government is catching up with public opinion and consensus in the medical field that there are therapeutic benefits to marijuana, along with some risks.

"Rescheduling is a step forward, but it is not nearly enough. And there's no reason to keep cannabis in the Controlled Substances Act,” Wexler previously told USA TODAY.

What are the possible risks of marijuana?

Because of its classification, marijuana has been hard to study. But the move to reschedule marijuana is due in large part to its lower public health risk, federal scientists have said.

In a leaked HHS document , officials wrote to the DEA to support lowering its classification to Schedule III. Its risk for addiction was lower than other drugs and it had medical benefits, unlike Schedule I and II drugs, HHS researchers said. 

Still, scientists said, users develop moderate to low physical dependence on it, and there is some risk of psychological dependence. However, they noted, the withdrawal symptoms are “relatively mild” compared with alcohol. Marijuana is more comparable to tobacco, they said.

There are no known deaths from a marijuana overdose, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse , or NIDA. But it does affect physical and mental health.

Marijuana can cause permanent IQ loss for people who begin using it at a young age, the institute said. Additionally, long-term use has been associated with temporary paranoia and hallucinations, and it can exacerbate symptoms with disorders such as schizophrenia, NIDA said.

Marijuana smoke has a similar health impact to tobacco smoke. NIDA found people who smoke marijuana frequently develop issues with breathing, akin to tobacco smokers. 

Smoking cannabis, the most common way to consume the drug, may have additional risks because of particulate matter a person inhales, according to a recent study in the Journal of the American Heart Association . Researchers noted cannabis smoke isn’t all that different than tobacco smoke, the only difference being the added effect of the psychoactive drug THC in marijuana rather than nicotine in tobacco.

Respiratory issues include daily cough, phlegm and a higher risk of lung infections, however, the institute said it’s unclear if marijuana causes a greater risk of lung cancer. 

Smoking marijuana also increases heart rate, which can increase the chance of heart attack, especially among older people and people with heart conditions. The Heart Association journal study linked increased cannabis use with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. 

“Despite common use, little is known about the risks of cannabis use and, in particular, the cardiovascular disease risks,” the study’s lead author, Abra Jeffers, a data analyst at Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital, said in a statement. “The perceptions of the harmfulness of smoking cannabis are decreasing, and people have not considered cannabis use dangerous to their health. However, previous research suggested that cannabis could be associated with cardiovascular disease.” She noted that smoking cannabis, which is the predominant way it is used, could pose other risks because it involves inhaling particulate matter.

In the study published in late February, researchers examined Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey data of over 400,000 adults from 2016 to 2020, looking at self-reported cannabis use with cardiovascular outcomes, such as heart disease, heart attacks and strokes. 

People who used marijuana daily had a 25% higher chance of having a heart attack and a 42% higher chance of stroke than those who didn’t use it at all.

Proposal reflects potential for health benefits

The cannabis plant has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries if not millennia. It appears to help with treating pain , insomnia, anxiety, and glaucoma, among other health conditions. Still, evidence is mixed and more research into its health benefits is needed, researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health said in August.

While the FDA hasn’t approved the cannabis plant for any medical use, federal regulators have approved several drugs containing cannabinoids, or substances such as THC or CBD found in the cannabis plant, according to the National Institutes of Health .

These include Epidiolex, a purified form of CBD ingested orally, that is FDA-approved to treat seizures associated with two severe forms of epilepsy. Marinol and Syndros both contain synthetic THC and are used to treat nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy. Nabilone, another synthetic similar to THC, is approved as the brand name drug Cesamet for people with HIV/AIDS who experiencing weight loss and appetite loss.

A 2017 federal report found cannabis or cannabinoids were more likely to reduce pain symptoms for patients with chronic pain. Additionally, there is some evidence that cannabis is effective in treating symptoms of multiple sclerosis, particularly addressing the stiff or rigid muscles caused by the disease. One cannabinoid drug, nabiximol, a mouth spray that has both THC and CBD, has been approved in several countries but not in the U.S. Under the brand name Sativex, it has shown pain relief for people with cancer or multiple sclerosis.

Other research has examined cannabis’ uses to treat post-traumatic stress disorder, but the NIH said the evidence is mixed.

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  1. Free Essay Plan Template for A-levels

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  2. Essay planning template (Download)

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  3. How to Structure an Essay: A Guide for College Students

    how to plan an a level essay

  4. IELTS Essay Planning: 4 Step Approach

    how to plan an a level essay

  5. 8+ Essay Plan Templates

    how to plan an a level essay

  6. Essay planning template (Download)

    how to plan an a level essay

VIDEO

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COMMENTS

  1. How to plan an essay: Essay Planning

    Essay planning is an important step in academic essay writing. Proper planning helps you write your essay faster, and focus more on the exact question. As you draft and write your essay, record any changes on the plan as well as in the essay itself, so they develop side by side. One way to start planning an essay is with a 'box plan'.

  2. 7 Steps for Writing an Essay Plan (2024)

    The 7-Step Guide on How to write an Essay Plan. Figure out your Essay Topic (5 minutes) Gather your Sources and take Quick Notes (20 minutes) Brainstorm using a Mind-Map (10 minutes) Arrange your Topics (2 minutes) Write your topic Sentences (5 minutes) Write a No-Pressure Draft in 3 Hours (3 hours)

  3. How to Structure an Essay

    The basic structure of an essay always consists of an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. But for many students, the most difficult part of structuring an essay is deciding how to organize information within the body. This article provides useful templates and tips to help you outline your essay, make decisions about your structure, and ...

  4. The Beginner's Guide to Writing an Essay

    Essay writing process. The writing process of preparation, writing, and revisions applies to every essay or paper, but the time and effort spent on each stage depends on the type of essay.. For example, if you've been assigned a five-paragraph expository essay for a high school class, you'll probably spend the most time on the writing stage; for a college-level argumentative essay, on the ...

  5. PDF Strategies for Essay Writing

    When you write an essay for a course you are taking, you are being asked not only to create a product (the essay) but, more importantly, to go through a process of thinking more deeply about a question or problem related to the course. By writing about a source or collection of sources, you will have the chance to wrestle with some of the

  6. How to Write an A-Level English Literature Essay

    Writing begins with understanding. When faced with an essay prompt, dissect it carefully. Identify keywords and phrases to grasp what's expected. Pay attention to verbs like "analyse," "discuss," or "evaluate.". These guide your approach. For instance, if asked to analyse, delve into the how and why of a literary element.

  7. Essay structure and planning

    Make a plan. Planning your essay makes it more likely that you have a coherent argument. It enables you to work out a logical structure and an endpoint for your argument before you start writing. It means you don't have to do this type of complex thinking at the same time as trying to find the right words to express your ideas.

  8. Essay plans

    Essay plans. An essay plan is a way to identify, select, and order the points you want to make in your essay. It helps you to work out your argument and your structure before writing, which should make the writing process more efficient and focussed. Sometimes essay plans are set as formative assignments so tutors can provide feedback before ...

  9. How to Plan an Essay

    Write the essay question out in full. Spend some time, at least half an hour, brainstorming the subject area. Write down your thoughts on the question subject, its scope and various aspects. List words or phrases that you think need to be included. Note the main points you should include to answer the question.

  10. Example of a Great Essay

    At college level, you must properly cite your sources in all essays, research papers, and other academic texts (except exams and in-class exercises). Add a citation whenever you quote, paraphrase, or summarize information or ideas from a source. You should also give full source details in a bibliography or reference list at the end of your text.

  11. Strategies for Essay Writing

    Tips for Reading an Assignment Prompt. Asking Analytical Questions. Thesis. Introductions. What Do Introductions Across the Disciplines Have in Common? Anatomy of a Body Paragraph. Transitions. Tips for Organizing Your Essay. Counterargument.

  12. How to Write a Perfect Essay Plan

    The last step in writing an essay plan is to outline your essay. This means breaking it down section by section, paragraph by paragraph, so you know exactly what you need to write to answer the essay question. The exact content will depend on the topic and word count. But, as a rule, most essays will have a basic structure along the following ...

  13. How to Write a Great Essay for Different A-Level Subjects

    French. The primary task that lies ahead of you in writing a French essay is, of course, to demonstrate your superior language skills. Keep the content itself very even-handed, sitting on the fence rather than presenting a forceful opinion that could distract attention away from the quality of your use of French.

  14. How to plan an essay

    Essay writing: Planning essays. An excellent, student-friendly guide for A-level students about the benefits of essay planning, and covering all the stages of planning. Includes detailed guidance on how to approach a KS5 essay question or title and how to identify the key or command words of the question. An extract from the lesson worksheet:

  15. Essay and dissertation writing skills

    A PDF providing further guidance on writing science essays for tutorials is available to download.. Short videos to support your essay writing skills. There are many other resources at Oxford that can help support your essay writing skills and if you are short on time, the Oxford Study Skills Centre has produced a number of short (2-minute) videos covering different aspects of essay writing ...

  16. How do I structure an A Level essay?

    Arguments. There are various ways people structure their arguments (e.g. some like to list all the for points and then all the against, while others interchange between them), this for me has proven the clearest and most effective way of doing so: Argument 1: Point A > Point B > Point C. Argument 2: Point A > Point B > Point C.

  17. How to master A Level Geography 20-mark essay questions

    Essay questions tend to use the command words "to what extent" or "assess". According to AQA, if the question includes the "to what extent" command word, you should "Consider several options, ideas or arguments and come to a conclusion about their importance/success/worth". On the other hand, if it is an "assess" question ...

  18. AQA A Level Paper 1 (25 Mark Essays)

    Year 1 (AS) Practice Exam Papers for AQA A-Level Business for exams up to 2024. In the first in a series of short videos on Paper 1 (25 mark) essay technique, I've had a go at providing a worked example of how to plan the two PeCAn PiE paragraph points and AJIM conclusion for a 25 mark essay on AQA A Level Business Paper 1.

  19. A Level History Essay Structure

    Here you can see the most simplified essay structure for tackling A level History essays. All students should be familiar with this structure. We have broken the essay down into an introduction and conclusion as well as 3 separate parts of content. Running through the entire essay at the side is our line of argument.

  20. Economics Revision Essay Plans

    Economics Revision Essay Plans. This series of resources provides revision essay plans for a wide variety of essay topics, including synoptic questions. For the 2019 papers check out our collection of videos on building A* evaluation into your answers. Have you tried our series of more than 50 Quizlet revision activities?

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    Weber State University takes Utah nurse to next level in life, career. Modern storage solutions: harnessing the power of shipping containers Decoding health insurance: your casual guide to finding ...

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    The Biden administration moved Tuesday to reclassify marijuana as a lower-risk substance, a person familiar with the plans told CNN, a historic move that acknowledges the medical benefits of ...

  23. How to Write an Essay Outline

    Revised on July 23, 2023. An essay outline is a way of planning the structure of your essay before you start writing. It involves writing quick summary sentences or phrases for every point you will cover in each paragraph, giving you a picture of how your argument will unfold. You'll sometimes be asked to submit an essay outline as a separate ...

  24. Utah school removes class assignment on 'It Is So Hard to Be Trans' essay

    The assigned essay had been selected as one of the Top 11 winners in a 2023 student editorial contest through the The Learning Network, a free resource for teachers curated by The New York Times.

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    Hello! Welcome to Grace! Thank you for worshiping with us. Please leave us a comment to let us know you are here. Are there any prayer concerns?

  26. U.S. Plan to Protect Oceans Has a Problem, Some Say: Too Much Fishing

    A version of this article appears in print on , Section A, Page 9 of the New York edition with the headline: Fishing Zones Seen as Flaw In Plan to Protect Oceans. Order Reprints | Today's Paper ...

  27. Democrats plan to turn abortion ballot wins into state-level gains

    Driving the news: The DLCC memo outlines how they plan on "harnessing the power" of abortion-related measures to expand overall Democratic control in state legislatures. In legislative battlegrounds like Arizona, "ballot measures can help ... define the contrast and the stakes of the elections and help bring voters to the ballot box," per the memo.

  28. Letter: Feminist Mormon women wrote an open letter to the LDS Church in

    Today, I echo the forum's plea to the church: "We desperately need to know whether after serious consideration, soul-searching and prayer you find us unworthy…and ultimately expendable."

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    The plan wouldn't legalize marijuana at the federal level outright, but it would reclassify it from a Schedule I drug - believed highly dangerous, addictive and without medical use - to a ...

  30. How to Write a College Essay

    Making an all-state team → outstanding achievement. Making an all-state team → counting the cost of saying "no" to other interests. Making a friend out of an enemy → finding common ground, forgiveness. Making a friend out of an enemy → confront toxic thinking and behavior in yourself.