Arguably, the most important part of VCE English is essay-writing.
I have decided to focus, therefore, on the three most frequently asked questions when it comes to essays. The answers (at least for questions 2 and 3) can be applied not only to expository, but also creative and persuasive essays.
- How do I make my essay more structured?
For each separate paragraph, I suggest remembering the acronym TEEL.
- T - Each paragraph needs a Topic sentence, introducing the argument specific to that paragraph and adding to the essay’s overall argument.
- E - Each paragraph then needs Evidence, material that proves the topic sentence.
- E - Following this, we need an Explanation of the evidence: how does the evidence back up your argument?
- L - Finally, we need to Link the evidence and explanation to the next paragraph (if there is one).
So how does this relate to the structure of the overall essay? An essay is basically an enlarged version of each paragraph, with a C (conclusion) instead of an L.
2. How do I make sure my essay makes sense?
Apart from structure and phrasing, one of the most important parts of an essay is to remember that you’re answering a specific question. To answer this properly, you need two important things:
- To understand the question. This means reading it multiple times, underlining key words, and referring back to it - in some form - in every paragraph.
- To know your content. If it’s a book, have a solid understanding of its context and generic conventions. If it’s a text that you’re analysing or responding to, ensure you’ve read it in-depth several times.
When you feel you’ve finished your essay, I recommend reading it aloud or mouthing it. Any strange phrasing, spelling and grammar will be obvious and you can edit it out.
3. How do I improve my phrasing?
The best way to improve your phrasing is quite straightforward: write more.
What you write doesn’t have to be academic - it could simply be a diary.
Try to write daily. Not only will this practice help with the way your words flow in your essays, but it will also improve your general communication skills and the clarity of your thoughts.
If you don’t have the time, energy or motivation to write outside of schoolwork, you should at least dedicate time to reading.
As they say - good readers make good writers.
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