Essays are hard, we all know that. I study three subjects at Sixth Form and luckily for me, all three are essay subjects (English Literature, English Language and History) which means that I have written more essays than I can count in the last two years. One of the questions I have heard most from my stressed classmates is 'how do you write an essay?' normally followed by 'that sounds stupid', but it isn't. Nobody ever sits you down and says 'this is how you write an essay' so I figured, I'm qualified after the hundreds of essays I've written, why not give it a shot? So here it is, my guide to writing a good essay.
Step One: Preparation is everything
We've all tried to write an essay without really knowing the content and hoping we can blag our way through it, you never really can, I promise. So the first thing you need to do is make sure you know the content, revise, collect your notes, whatever you need to do to prepare. And yes this including collecting your stationary and paper etc, before you even start make sure you have and know everything you need. Personally, I swear by Quizlet to learn content and dates, it's a real life saver.
Step Two: Really read the question
It's really important that you know what the question is asking you, or else you won't know what to talk about. Highlight the keywords of the question and constantly refer to it and use the keywords to show the reader/ examiner/ your teacher that you are talking about the question, or else you can lose marks!
Step Three: Intro time
Ask yourself, what are you trying to say? What is your response to the question? If you are comparing two things such as books, arguments, factors use the Both However Whereas structure. Both A and B say this or talk about this, however, A says this about it, whereas, B says this about it. Then back this up by saying, this is a comment on C. C can be anything: 'the expectations of the time' 'gender roles' 'Truman's presidency'. The point of this is to add context to your introduction straight away to show that you are basing your line of argument (what you want to say) on facts and knowledge.
Step four: Individual paragraphs
Break down your information, make a list of the things you need to cover and the individual points that you want to make. Don't forget to start your paragraph with a topic sentence connecting your overall point and the point of this individual paragraph and finish it by relating it back to the question (don't forget your key-words) and making a judgement about this individual point in reference to the whole point. In the middle back up your point with evidence, facts and quotes.
Step Five: Conclude
Go out with a bang! Finish by making a decision, tell the reader what the answer is. Start with something other than the cliche 'to conclude', I personally prefer 'ultimately' and that way you stand out from the crowd. If you can, save a nice interesting fact to hit the reader with in the conclusion. This is your chance to essentially say 'so basically I was right and the previous paragraphs are the proof of it'.