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Hello! I did all essay subjects for A2 and continue to write essays in my degree now. Here are some steps I find useful:

1. Read the question - It is so so easy to misread the question and lose marks by slightly missing what they want you to approach. Highlight or underline the key words in the question. Let's look at an example, if I was answering the question "explain how the death of Franz Ferdinand contributed to the beginning of WW1" I would begin by underlining 'explain'. The question is asking you explain, which means giving information and reasons. There are several different question words used in exam questions, it's worth looking up the definitions and making sure you are confident with them. Next I would underline 'the death of Franz Ferdinand' and 'the beginning of WW1.' I can mention other parts of information in the essay but these factors must be the main focus.

2 - Plan your structure - a good basic structure for humanities essays is introduction, point 1, point 2, point 3, (point 4 if time) + conclusion. Each should be about a paragraph but don't get too hung up on your introduction, this should act as a signpost to your conclusion. Spend more time making your points strong than on your introduction. Your conclusion should pull all your points together to answer the original question. 

If you are asked you compare or evaluate two opinions point 1 should state a viewpoint, point 2 the opposing viewpoint, an point 3 the original viewpoint's response to the opposition, much like a debate. Think what points you want to cover overall in each paragraph. I often use revision cards and write the main point on the top then arrange them to see what order works best.

3. Plan paragraph structure - the best structure acronym I have found is 'KIL' which stands for Key Point, Illustration, Link. Use these for the point paragraphs and conclusion. The Key Point outlines the overall gist of the paragraph in brief. The Illustration goes into examples and explanations, in History this would include relevant important events and people. The Link ties the information in the paragraph to the original question, so in our question it would explain how the examples relate to the death of Franz Ferdinand and the beginning of WW1.

If you don't have the exact essay in advance, make mind maps on the different topics and separate areas. Use these to remember the related points and examples that you can use in these paragraphs. You can also write the KIL parts on the revision cards to help plan your order.

4. Write - Write each paragraph and piece it together, it's more manageable to begin it in chunks! One you have done this read it through as a whole essay and edit it to make it coherent. If this is for coursework, make sure you do a few drafts, reading these aloud really helps spot any errors. 

If you are planning for exam essays, be sure to do past practice questions, initially do them slowly are carefully with notes. As you get closer to the exam and have covered more in revision, practice writing essays from memory under timed conditions.  This helps so much and will enable to do your best work in the exam.

I really hope this helps you, all the best in your planning!

I studied English and History for A level and what I did in terms of planning essays was this:

1. Start by making the structure of how you want your essay to look so: Introduction, Para 1, Para 2, Para 3 etc.. and Conclusion. Your paragraphs should each have a topic that a relates to the question. I found a good way to start each paragraph was with a "topic sentence" meaning you write a clear sentence explaining your point and how it connects to the title of the essay.

2. Depending on the type of essay you are doing (whether it is source based or something else) you should then search for references and quotes to back your ideas up. Find at least 8 or 9 sources online or in books that link to your points. They do not necessarily have to agree with what you are saying or with each other (it is often better to have a few that disagree with each other so you can discuss their differing views).

3. Write the essay! What I did when actually beginning to write the essay was simply filling out the plan and making the bullet points into full sentences/paragraphs. Obviously there will be more to write and you should check thoroughly that your points link appropriately but this is a useful way to get a good portion of the essay done quite easily! Then get your quotes and references in and discuss how these differ or are similar to your findings. Also don't forget to explain the quotes and what they mean. Good luck!

I find the Point, Evidence, Explain is always a good approach for History essays.  Make your point, back it up with evidence from a source and explain that evidence and how it supports your point.  Your explanation should evaluate and analyse the evidence in detail at A2 level.

Mainly for Essays A2 course 

Hello! 

I think effective planning involves making a "skeleton" or a list. It will help you prioritise, assess and give a clearer picture of what needs to be done and what can be left out. Managing your time well is also key!


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