How do I structure an essay?

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There are many possible ways to structure an exam style essay, but this is the format I find most effective: 

1. Introduction

You must directly introduce your line of argument in response to the question, introducing a few critical or contextual viewpoints in doing so. Outline the main points you are going to discuss, but avoid using the "I" form, eg. "I will argue that..." Including and analysing a quote from the text (if relevant) can give your introduction extra weight. 

2. The body of the essay

For this I would recommend sorting your argument into 3 or 4 broad points, each taking up a paragraph. Within these must be included evidence/quotations from the text that support your point, close analysis of these quotations and relevant contextual and critical arguments that develop your point. Each paragraph should ideally contain at least one critical reference, and you should aim to provide links between the paragraphs so that the argument runs smoothly.

3. Conclusion

The conclusion must be what follows naturally from the points you have made, but must not just be a summary of the essay. Try to do something interesting with it: suggest other possible questions that your argument raises and its overall significance. 

Laura H. GCSE English Literature tutor, A Level English Literature tu...

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