Some of our clients have mentioned that, before coming to Proof Master, they were marked down in their essays because of their structure. When you sit down to write an essay its easy to become consumed by the content of the work and forget to consider the bigger picture. As the saying goes; you can’t see the wood through the trees. We have been asked if we have any easy to digest guidance or tips on structuring essays. Check out out 4 fail-safe tips for a good essay structure.
1. Introduce your essay with a funnel
We haven’t gone crazy, I promise. It is a really good technique to use. When you sit down to write your introduction, break your reader in gently. Start off with a broad statement or overview of the general topic area. Then begin to outline why this is relevant, slowly honing your reader down to your specific topic. By the time your reader gets to the end of your introduction, they should understand exactly what you are focussing on and why. Breadth to depth – just like a funnel.
2. Link your paragraphs
I know people have said this to us since Year 7, but this is what markers want to see. If you finish one paragraph talking about dogs – crazy example- and then want to talk about cats, you need to tell your reader why this is relevant. Unless you tell them why it is now necessary to talk about cats, they don’t know why they have moved on from dogs. Confusion in your reader is never good for marks.
So how can we do this? There are so many easy tricks to make a reader think a transition is logical, even if you honestly have no idea what the link is, you just want to move on to a new point. Simply introduce the next paragraph with “An alternative perspective on this argument can be drawn from….” Suddenly that random topic you just had to shove in there appears to be perfectly thought out! We aren’t saying to trick your marker, but we sort of are. “Similarly” and “alternatively” are also brilliant paragraph starters if you are short on words.
3. Relate EVERYTHING to the title
How many times have we seen “How does this relate to the title?” or “Is this relevant?” and proceeded to scream the relevance of it at our paper? It is the most infuriating thing to be marked down on as you think its obvious. The easiest way to get around this is to *ahem* throw it in their face. A marker can’t ask “why is this here?” if you have explicitly stated at the end of your point how it relates back to the title. It boosts your marks because it is so obvious that you are answering the question.
If your title, for example, was “To what extent is the amygdala responsible for aggression?” and you write a paragraph about how the amygdala is part of the primitive brain, remember to write a final sentence to your paragraph stating: “The evidence outlined in this paragraph strongly indicates that the amygdala is responsible for aggression.” That one simple sentence suddenly makes your inclusion of that point indisputably clear. Remember to then use Tip 2 to start your next paragraph.
4. Conclude – Do NOT sit on the fence!
Vague conclusions do not get marks. Sorry guys, you can’t sit on the fence. It honestly doesn’t matter to your marker what you conclude, there just had to be a solid conclusion based on the evidence. What did the paragraphs between writing the title and writing your conclusion tell you? Do you now agree with the title? Do you disagree? Are you tentatively leaning in one direction but think theres more research to be done?
For example, “The current conclusions drawn from research are based on inadequate sample sizes or studies with significant methodological flaws. At this point it would be inaccurate to draw any sound conclusions, despite the evidence appearing to agree with the title.” sounds a bit more conclusive than “More research is needed to answer this question accurately.”
Also remember “conclusion” and “discussion” are often used synonymously. Therefore even if you aren’t certain about a conclusion, discuss the implications of the points you have written. All of these things will be ticking boxes in your markers head and boosting your grade. Remember Tip 3 when writing your conclusion.
We hope these 4 quick-fire tips give you something to think about when writing your next essay. There are so many other techniques that can help you to structure a high-scoring essay. What techniques are tried and tested by you? We would love to hear from you.
If you are still struggling with structure, paragraph linking and presenting a strong conclusion, ask about Proof Master’s rewriting services. Remember you can blend multiple services together to suit your needs and budget.
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