BlogEnglishThe Complete Guide to Writing an Analytical Essay for QCAA English

The Complete Guide to Writing an Analytical Essay for QCAA English

Person reading a book and writing notes - QCAA English Essay

Aiming for high marks on your QCAA English analytical essay, but aren’t confident with how to structure it?

To be able to demonstrate your full understanding of the text, it is necessary that you understand how to organise and write out your ideas to gain as many marks as possible. This can be challenging, so we’ll take you through everything you need to know to write a killer essay!

Let’s get started!

General Considerations for the QCAA English Analytical Essay
Planning Your Analytical Essay
Body Paragraph Structure

General Considerations for the QCAA English Analytical Essay

There are a few unwritten rules that must be followed to make sure you produce a top notch essay!

Firstly, never write in first person (I or me), but always in third person (the reader, the writer) as this is meant to be a formal piece of writing.

The second most important thing here is to always write in the present tense, rather than in the past tense. The writer uses or does something, rather than used or did. Even if the play was written in the past, you should still make the essay in the present tense, because it is in the NOW that you’re analysing it. 

Some exam advice here: the conditions stipulate that your essay must be 800 to 1000 words. Add another evidence body paragraph if you see you’re running short.

Read also: how to ace Unit 4 of QCAA English!

Planning Your Analytical Essay

To best succeed, we’ll start from the planning stage, something you should do well before writing your essay.

Make sure that you scribble down the point of each of your three paragraphs briefly, including 1-2 example quotes. Most importantly, be sure to write underneath the type of literary technique that said quotes use.

This will mean you’ll have identified most of the elements that make up your paragraph since the planning stage. By the time you’ll get to the body paragraph, all you’ll have to do is expand on them. 

Discover our ‘thesis + 3’ technique for preparing essays!

Your essay essentially follows this basic structure:

Structure for the task - QCAA English

We’ll break down each of these sections, so you know exactly what to include in your QCAA English essay!

Wondering how you’re tracking with all of your English IAs? Check out our QCE Cohort Comparison tool to find out!


There are many ways you can write a sound introduction, but to be safe, use this structure if you’re finding it difficult. This will make sure you hit all the marking criteria!

#1: Context Statement

Here you should include the main message of the work, as well as its date, writer, and historical context. Think of it as your ‘History’ paragraph.

If certain aspects of the historical context are extremely significant for the exploration of your thesis statement, its great to mention them here in the first 3-4 lines. You will be prepping your readers for your thesis statement.

#2: Thesis Statement

State your thesis as clearly as possible. Here you can be succinct or elaborate, but make sure not to go over 3 sentences. It’s crucial that you use the wording of your question, as it will make it obvious that you’re directly answering it. 

#3: Preview Statement

This statement sets the order in which you’ll be talking about your ideas. State how the writer achieves what they achieve by including the name of the literary techniques of each paragraph in the order you are going to talk about them in your body paragraphs. If you nail this sentence, your structure will benefit from it.

#4: Segue Sentence

As the name suggests, this sentence will segue into your first paragraph. How you do this is entirely up to you, as it will depend on your first paragraph.

We’re written a tonne of high quality practice questions to help you prepare for the QCE English External exam!

Body Paragraph Structure for Your Analytical Essay

#1: Paragraph Thesis

These first two sentences should do two things: Answer the main question of the exam, and mention how this is achieved, by mentioning the literary technique that is used to achieve the answer to the essay question.

An example would be:

Shakespeare masterfully reveals the supernatural characteristics of Macbeth’s setting by his astute use of pathetic fallacy.”

#2: Evidence Statement

This part is reserved for your evidence, meaning you should insert a relevant quote that relates to the technique cited in your point. This will make sure your evidence is coherent with the point you are training to make.

Keep in mind that it is very likely you will have to write two evidence statements or even three per paragraph, unless your first piece of evidence is complex enough to need a whole paragraph to explore. 

#3: Explanation and Intended Effect

Here you can explain the quote in detail. Make sure to showcase as much understanding as possible!

You want to explain the quote in relation to the technique, and what its intended meaning or effect is.

Basically, try and answer the question: Why did the writer use this?

#4: Effect on the Reader

This is where you get to add your own personal touch and style to your writing, which is marked in the ISMGs. Try and explore the effect that the technique or quote had on you personally, without saying ‘I’ or ‘Me’ — instead use ‘The Reader’.

You’ll explore the quote’s actual effect, while still writing the essay in third person. 

#5: Link Sentence

This final sentence will restate your point and possibly make a link to the start of the paragraph. Of course, this depends on the paragraph, so it is up to you in the moment how you do this. 

A paragraph should be at least 200 words long, but not more than 300. Feel free to add a 4th piece of evidence if you don’t make the word count. Repeat this process 3 times.

Check out our other paragraph structure guides below:

Analytical Essay Conclusion

Restate your thesis, reiterating that you’ve answered the question. Then, restate in a different fashion your preview statement from your introduction. This will tie your essay off neatly!

Finally, for style points, add a final sentence that stimulates readers to ponder the overall meaning of the work.

An example would be:

“Shakespeare, through his timeless play ‘Macbeth’, invites readers to consider the legitimacy of one’s own ambition, and how far he should go to satisfy it.” 

Overall, your essay for QCAA English should be addressing all of the criteria listed below. Be sure to read over your work once you’ve finished writing your essay to ensure that your grammar is correct, you’ve used proper punctuation throughout and there aren’t any spelling errors.

On the hunt for other QCAA English resources?

Check out our guides to completing QCAA English assessments below:

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Vittorio Manessi is an Art of Smart tutor based in Queensland studying environmental science. He was one of the first Year 12 students to study under the new ATAR system in Queensland. He enjoys Maths, Science, English and Ancient History and is keen to share his knowledge of the QCE by making awesome resources.

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