MYTUTOR SUBJECT ANSWERS

276 views

How do I plan and structure an essay in an exam?

Writing an essay under exam conditions is daunting, the pressurised environment can sometimes make you forget what you're doing altogether! Here's some tips on planning and structuring an exam essay:

It's been said many times, but one of the most important things you can do is read the question. Make sure that you read the question properly, at least 3-4 times to make sure you understand what the exam is asking of you. Then, make sure your answer is tailored to this question. It may sound silly, but it's very easy to end up not properly answering the question when you're in an exam and have revised particular aspects of your text.

The best way to approach this is to decide what your main point is going to be at the start. Let's take this exam question as an example: 

Explore the significance of the aspects of dramatic tragedy in the following passage in relation to the play as a whole.

So, let's pick out the key parts of this question. Firstly, it is asking you to 'explore', this might mean that you consider many different aspects and approaches before coming to your conclusion. It might help to phrase this question differently: How is dramatic tragedy being created? And Why? In this way, you need to analyse, through a close reading of the passage, how Shakespeare is making the scene dramatic. Then, you need to link this to your wider point of why Shakespeare is making the scene dramatic. Your final point could be something as simple as, "Shakespeare heightens the dramatic impact of tragedy through the dialogue between Lear and Kent, which demonstrates Lear's madness"

Your essay plan may look something like this:

Introduction: Introduce the passage of the play you are studying, where is it situated within the play? what has happened before/after? (notice how the question asks you to link to the wider play - here's a great place to show off your knowledge!) then, state what your main point is?

Paragraph 1: Dialogue (what dialogue is Shakespeare using? is it dynamic, is there imagery or themes that crop up throughout the play? why is this important?)

Paragraph 2: Character/Relationships (who is in this scene? are they family, friends or enemies? why is this important?)

Paragraph 3: Setting (where is this scene set? is it dramatic? how does it add to the tragedy? why is it important?)

Paragraph 4: Mood (what is the mood of this scene? how is it created? are there visual/aural effects? why is it important?)

Conclusion: conclude by briefly summarising your main points, and link it back to your bigger point, "Shakespeares use of dramatic tragedy through the plot, the relationships, the setting and the mood is significant because..."

You may notice that at the end of each paragraph I have asked: "why is this important?" The exam question asks you to "explore the significance", using this structure will help you to keep in mind the bigger question and help you keep coming back to your main point.

Remember, planning in an exam is just as important as writing. With a good plan, you can keep on track and maintain a strong essay structure. Make sure you dedicate some of your time to planning, you could even plan which quotes you want to use and where to help save time when writing. 

Jordan I. GCSE English Literature tutor, A Level English Literature t...

9 months ago

Answered by Jordan, an A Level English Literature tutor with MyTutor


Still stuck? Get one-to-one help from a personally interviewed subject specialist

58 SUBJECT SPECIALISTS

£26 /hr

Will B.

Degree: English (Bachelors) - Oxford, St Edmund Hall University

Subjects offered: English Literature, English+ 2 more

English Literature
English
.ELAT
-Personal Statements-

“ I am familiar with the often limited resources and attention available at school. I myself faced some difficulties with my A-Level English exams, but with the extra help of a fantastic tutor, I was able to secure my place at Oxford University,”

£20 /hr

Gusta M.

Degree: English Literature (Bachelors) - Kings, London University

Subjects offered: English Literature, Maths+ 7 more

English Literature
Maths
Latin
History
English Language
Classical Civilisation
.ELAT
-Personal Statements-

“Hi, I'm Gusta and I'm a 21 year old English student from London.Unsurprisingly, I love books! Whether it is reading them, discussing them or writing about them, it is unusual for me to find something that I dislike or don't want to f...”

£24 /hr

Shani T.

Degree: History and English Literature (Masters) - Glasgow University

Subjects offered: English Literature, History+ 4 more

English Literature
History
English and World Literature
English Language
-Personal Statements-

“I am a first-year student currently studying English Literature, History and Politics at the University of Glasgow, working towards a Masters in History.English Literature and History are both huge passions of mine, both being subjec...”

About the author

£22 /hr

Jordan I.

Degree: English (Bachelors) - Exeter University

Subjects offered: English Literature, Media Studies+ 3 more

English Literature
Media Studies
English Language
-Personal Statements-

“About Me: Hi! My name's Jordan, I am currently in my third year at The University of Exeter studying English Literature. I have always had a passion for Literature and spend most of my free time reading! I am friendly, patient and ded...”

You may also like...

Other A Level English Literature questions

How do I plan an essay for an A Level English Literature question?

I'm having trouble getting high marks on my OCR English essays because of poor structure. My teacher says I've got good ideas, but I just can't seem to get the structure right. Can you help?

How do I improve mt coursework?

How should I structure an essay with the question beginning "How far do you agree..."?

View A Level English Literature tutors

Cookies:

We use cookies to improve our service. By continuing to use this website, we'll assume that you're OK with this. Dismiss

mtw:mercury1:status:ok