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Writing a Critical Essay

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1 Writing a Critical Essay
Intermediate Two English

2 Reading the Question Always read the question carefully, considering both parts. Underline key words from it that you will use from the beginning of your essay right through to the end. The starting point of your essay should focus on the question, not the text you have studied.

3 Tip! Plan your essay at the top of your page or on a spare bit of paper. It’s a good idea to write down key points you want to make, key quotations, a structure and anything else you find helps you.

4 Tip! Planning helps you avoid:
Remembering a point later on that you wish you had included Mentioning everything you know first then having nothing to write – space it out! Stating in your introduction that you are going to follow a certain line of thought but then your discussion gradually moves away from this

5 Writing an Introduction
Focus on the question straightaway Refer to key words in the question Give an outline of your intention in the essay (what will you be focusing on/what will your line of thought will be) Mention title and author Avoid including detail or examples but simply take a general overview of the question

6 NO SUMMARY!! If you feel you do need summarise a part of the story, then do so in your introduction. DO NOT take a new paragraph and begin to tell me all about the story/poem/play.

7 Main Paragraphs Use PEAR
If you have more than one quote in a paragraph, then make sure you structure it like this: Topic sentence (point) Quote 1 + Analysis Quote 2 + analysis Relate to question at the end of the paragraph

8 Main Paragraphs Remember:
At the start of every paragraph, refer back to the intro to check you’re still on course and you haven’t went off in another direction Do not begin paragraphs with detailed points but instead general topic sentences.

9 Main Paragraphs Example ‘In chapter one we realise Old Major is in charge of the farm.’ INSTEAD ‘We are aware of the power structures on the farm in the first chapter.’

10 Example of a main paragraph
We are aware of power structures on the farm in the first chapter. It is evident that a hierarchy between the animals exists, with Old Major sitting on a ‘raised platform’ and the dogs and pigs sitting immediately in front of him in the barn. By describing the animals sitting in this way, Orwell signals the way in which, despite efforts at equality, the pigs and dogs will later assume the dominant roles on the farm. Topic Sentence Quote (Evidence) Analysis

11 Conclusion Return to your introduction and summarise what you have proved over the course of your essay. While you will be referring back to your original points, try to vary your word choice so it doesn’t sound too repetitive.

12 Checking your essay Check your spelling is correct
Particularly make sure you have spelled the author’s name correctly, the title correctly and the characters/settings. Check your punctuation is correct Make sure you haven’t allowed two sentences to run into each other using a comma where you should have used a full stop. Read your sentences back – if you run out of breath, it’s too long!

13 Linking words and phrases
Using linking words and phrases help your writing flow There are essentially four kinds.

14 Linking words and phrases
1. Adding on a similar point Furthermore Moreover In addition to this… Similarly

15 Linking words and phrases
2. Making a different point However Nevertheless On the other hand In contrast to this

16 Linking words and phrases
3. Placing ideas in order of importance In particular More importantly Of greatest significance Above all

17 Linking words and phrases
4. Drawing a conclusion Thus Therefore As a result of this Consequently

18 Have you used quotations properly?
Use a colon : to introduce them No longer than one or two lines They should illustrate a point not simply repeat it Example: ‘It is clear she had no money: ‘Katie was heavy skint.’ MAKE SURE YOUR QUOTATIONS ARE WORTHWHILE!

19 Suitable tone? Try to avoid using ‘I’, ‘my’ etc.
Do not write in an informal tone = no slang expressions Do not use shortened forms (don’t, won’t, can’t = do not, will not, cannot) Do not use abbreviations (such as e.g. and etc. ) Do not write out the number 1, always use ‘one’.

20 Finally… Try to refer to some critical terminology to boost your mark:
Imagery Symbolism Tone Conflict Themes Climax Narrative viewpoint Dialect Structure

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