One of the most important pieces of knowledge to any Year 12 English student is how to write a text response essay. Commonly seen as the easiest essay, the method of structuring a text response is often overly simplified, or simply not understood by students! The introduction to an essay is the very first thing your examiner/teacher will read, and is therefore very important to helping you immediately stand out and differentiate yourself from the crowd.
Firstly, your introduction is important because it is a key aspect to fulfilling the criterion of appropriate structure. Be clear and concise: it is always better to be clear than to use lots of big words which are not appropriate for the situation.
An introduction can be divided into three steps:
- Firstly, briefly set up context. This might include the type of text (e.g. play, novel, short stories, poem collection etc.), very basic historical context (time period, subject matter), and any very important information which is the basis to the essay. Definitely do not spend more than one sentence doing so, as the most important part of the essay is to show your own opinion/knowledge of the given text, not just summarising what it is about.
- Explicitly outline your contention. Your contention must be clearly addressing all aspects of the topic you are given, and it also needs to demonstrate that you can think independently (if you are aiming for top grades), even uniquely. Your angle on the topic is the single most important aspect to the essay.
- Finally, briefly signpost the upcoming arguments in your essay. These are the points, or mini-contentions, forming the basis of each body paragraph. You should aim for at least 3 body paragraphs, up to 5 if you are ambitious. These mini-contentions must each relate both to the overall contention, and thus to the topic, which will add a feeling of cohesion and continuity to the essay
Overall, there is no need to write more than three or four or so sentences! If you write these sentences well, however, you will immediately create a positive impression of the essay, crucial to gaining the reader's attention.
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