Essay writing for A level?(5 Posts)
Dd, in year 12, could do with a course in essay writing. Can anyone recommend anything online? Her essays are garbled and badly planned - her school are investigating other issues but I think a good practical course on how to actually write an essay can't do any harm.
Plifner, one of the things on my to do list is to set up a blog for History A level students. I'm hoping to get it done this week and to post a guide to essay writing that I originally did for a dyslexic tutee of mine.
Check back in a few days - I'll post a link as soon as it's done and gone live.
Does she type or write by hand?
There are advantages and disadvantages with both. Typing allows you to go back and add or move things around, but writing is much better for developing discipline.
Really good planning is key. Try going through an essay with her as she prepares for it. Get her to do this on one sheet of paper. As the plan develops she may want to move things using arrows, then she can copy out the plan neatly to help crystallise it.
Look at the title, circle the key components to make sure they get addressed fully (so many students answer a slightly different question from the one asked).
Clearly essays need an introduction a middle bit and a conclusion. The intro can include a hypothesis / argument that sets the tone or it can just briefly outline the problem. I prefer the hypothesis approach as I think it helps the essay gain momentum more quickly.
After the intro there may be the needs for some brief background information giving, but often there is a contentious element to an essay title, so you want to keep this bit brief.
If the essay does involve evaluation she will need to consider more than one point of view and the criticisms of those views, but she also needs to make sure that the side she is arguing for sounds the strongest, so if she criticises that side she then needs to counter-criticise and explain what is wrong with the criticisms. Setting those out as bullet points with arrows between them so she can see the relationship between them should help.
Her conclusion should not introduce more information. If it does then it should either be taken out, or she needs to look back at where it belonged in the essay. Never be too precious about a particular sentence or paragraph construction if it is in the wrong place. It is like having a beautify drawing of a foot that is the wrong size for the rest of the body. For the composition to work it needs to be scrubbed out and redrawn in proportion.
It is remarkable how frequently an intro and a conclusion need reversing. So at the end of the planning process look at these again and check they still fit well with the essay.
The easiest essay structure goes something like this:
Essential info / definitions
Criticisms of argument 1
Criticisms of argument 2
Counter-criticisms in support of argument 2
Get past papers and practice essay planning - she doesn't need to write the whole essay for each one, she just needs to learn how to structure the info and apply it to the essays she is set.
How I was taught to write essays:
In rough, write rite down the points you want to put in.
Make brief reminder notes of info and quotations you want to include in each
Decide what order to put them in.
Leave a gap at the top and write down the main body of the essay
Put the intro into the gap at the beginning
Put the conclusion on the end
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