Just started Year 9 or 10 and need an idea of how to write an English essay? Or maybe you just want to revise essay writing?
Then this article is for you!
In Years 9 and 10, writing an English essay can seem like an overwhelming task, but it doesn’t have to be!
You might have some questions like:
- How do I structure an essay?
- What do I include in each paragraph?
- How do I incorporate pieces of evidence or examples?
Luckily for you, we’ve compiled this article to cover the above and give you a rundown on everything you need to know about writing an essay!
So, what are you waiting for? Let’s jump right in!
Step 1: Know Your Text!
To write an effective English essay, you firstly need to know your text well!
Here are a few ways to really get to know your text:
- Read your text a few times and write notes within your text as you go (time allowing).
- Mind-map the main themes and ideas in your text.
- Go over your notes from English class.
- Ask for help from your teacher if you’re struggling with understanding certain parts of your text.
- Do some online research on what other people say about your text (this can be helpful in solidifying the ideas that you’ve already brainstormed).
How to Use a TEE Table
After you’ve read your text and completed a bit of research on it, it’s time to use TEE tables!
TEE stands for Technique, Example and Effect.
These tables will become your go-to for studying English and writing an essay. This is because it encapsulates most things you need to know and write about in an English essay.
You’ll be using your TEE table to analyse your text as well as memorise your quotes.
You want to create a TEE table for each theme in your text – which is usually around 3 themes!
For example, if you’re studying Romeo and Juliet you might want to have a TEE table for the themes of love, hate and loyalty.
You probably want to choose about 3-4 examples per TEE table.
To use your TEE table, firstly pick an example (E) from your text. This might be quote, a piece of dialogue, a line from a poem or even a scene from a film.
Then, identify 1-2 techniques (T) from the example that you can discuss.
Now, analyse the example by outlining the effect (E) of said technique.
For example, how an example highlights certain ideas that you can use to back up your point and answer the question.
Do this for at least seven examples, so you are prepared to include roughly two to three pieces of evidence per body paragraph.
However, it is wise to be prepared for whatever the question may throw at you, so the more the merrier!
Still not quite sure? Here’s our full article on how to use a TEE table!
Step 2: Understanding English Essay Structure
The next step is to understand the English essay structure.
An English essay typically consists of an introduction, three body paragraphs and a conclusion. Your teacher may like a specific type of structure and if that’s the case, go with that!
Otherwise, check out this basic structure:
- Briefly answer the question in your thesis statement
- Use keywords from the question
- For example, “How does your prescribed text convey the effects of loneliness in identity?”
- For some more info on how to construct a strong thesis statement, check out our article to writing thesis statements here!
- Introduce your text(s) with an underline and include how they relate to the essay question
- Introduce your three paragraph ideas
Body Paragraph #1
- Present your first idea
- Follow PEEL: Point, Evidence, Explain, Link x3 (this will be elaborated on in the next part!)
Body Paragraph #2
- Present your second idea
- Follow PEEL x3
Body Paragraph #3
- Present your third idea
- Follow PEEL x3
- Restate your thesis statement
- Summarise your ideas
- Give a concluding sentence on the essay question and text(s)
Step 3: Understanding PEEL
The structure of PEEL (Point, Evidence, Explain, Link) is used 3 times in each body paragraph, representing the 3 points and pieces of evidence that you will discuss in each paragraph.
PEEL helps structure each of your paragraphs so you’re never lost as to what you should be writing about.
Present your first idea/argument that backs up your answer to the essay question. This is also called a topic sentence.
Make sure you check that you’re answering the question by using the keywords from the question.
You also want to make sure that in your topic sentence, you’re taking a stance or some point of view!
Here is where you introduce your technique and example from your TEE table!
You can include more than one piece of evidence, typically 2-3 is effective in backing up your point.
Check that you’re using examples that are relevant to the point you are making (don’t just list out a bunch of techniques and quotes)!
Here you want to analyse and discuss why your chosen evidence (technique + example) is relevant and backs up your point.
The effect section of your TEE table will help you out with that!
Finally, link back to your point and the question!
Make sure you check that you’re addressing the question and linking it back to your point introduced in this paragraph!
Step 4: Editing and Revising!
Whether you’re preparing for an in-class English essay or writing up one to hand in, it’s always a good idea to edit your essay.
Editing your essay means going over it with a critical eye, but it can be difficult to spot areas which need fixing!
So, here are some things to look for when editing:
- Spelling mistakes
- Sentences that are too long–see if you are able to split them into two separate sentences!
- Lack of textual evidence (examples from your text)
- Phrases that don’t make sense
- Phrases or ideas that are repeated too often
- If the question is clearly addressed
Step 5: Practice, Practice, Practice!
And last, but not least, be sure to practice and polish your essay writing!
Just like any other skill, essay writing takes time, patience and practice to get a hang of.
It might seem like there are tons of things to do to write an essay, but take things step-by-step, practice, practice, practice and you’ll be sure to achieve your best!
So, what are you waiting for? Pick up your text and start writing your English essay!
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Millicent Tai sat her HSC in 2018, achieving an ATAR of 98.85 and is currently studying a Bachelor of Commerce/CompSci at UNSW. She tutors students at Art of Smart in English and Maths, and loves helping them out academically and in other areas of their school lives. In her free time, she likes to read, draw and write poetry.