Just starting out year 7 and want to be the most prepared for your first high school English class? Confused about the expectations for your first essay assignment?
Look no further. This article will answer all the frequently asked questions on how to structure an essay.
How long should my essay be?
Essay assignments often have a word count guide you need to follow. But in the case of an in-class essay test, here is a rough guideline: within a standard 40-minute time frame, you should aim for an introduction, 2 TEEL body paragraphs and a conclusion.
What do I put in the introduction? How long should it be?
Your introduction should only be 3-4 sentences. Get straight to the point within your opening sentence. The best openings demonstrate you have clearly planned your arguments. So before starting to write, it is crucial you take 5 minutes to think of your argument and plan out how you will support them in the body paragraphs. Then, the first sentence just needs to offer your direct response to the question itself.
Tip: To make sure you are properly addressing the question, use synonyms or words directly from the question itself in your thesis statement.
How long should each body paragraph be?
Always think back to the TEEL structure as you are writing the body paragraphs. Each paragraph should have:
- Topic sentence – clearly identify your argument. (1 sentence)
- Example – quote at least one example from the text. Make sure this quote has been chosen strategically to best support your argument. Remember to use quotation marks. (1 sentence)
- Elaboration – analyse the quote. Did the author use a certain technique? What can be extracted from this example to prove the argument you are trying to say? (2-3 sentences)
- Link – connect the discussion back to the topic sentence to further emphasise the idea in this paragraph. (1 sentence)
What goes in the conclusion?
Your conclusion only needs to be 2-3 sentences long. It offers your final answer to the question. You can summarise the 2 main ideas you analysed in the 2 body paragraphs and offer your final judgement about your interpretation of the question.
I’ve followed these guidelines and finished early. What should I do?
- Proofread – check there are no spelling, grammar or punctuation errors.
- Check the style – did you avoid using conversational or slang words such as ‘like’?
- Did you use speech marks to quote your examples?
Hopefully, essay writing now seems less intimidating. Remember, the best way to prepare is to just practise. Practise using these guidelines to structure your next essay and you will notice big improvement in no time.
By Brittanie Hsu, an Alchemy tutor