After you have chosen a question, one that you understand and interests you, reread the primary text with the question in mind, then analyse the text with the question in mind. It is essential that you make notes as you read your text whilst thinking about the key words in your chosen title, and select quotes that are relevant to the question.
Secondly, do some secondary reading. Use critics to build upon your argument, but do not let critics dominate your essay; show that you have engaged with the text.
Next create an essay plan, always keeping in mind the question. Never drift from the question. You must then work out what you are going to argue based on your analysis of the primary text and what you have discovered from secondary texts.
When beginning your essay start with the outline of your argument. As soon as possible, begin by analysing the primary text. If you haven’t quoted from and started analysing the primary text by the end of the first page, there is something wrong with your essay.
Avoid unnecessary plot summary. The marker will know the text you are discussing and assumes you do as well. You need to demonstrate how well you can analyse the text.
Avoid biographical details. You need to be answering the question rather than recounting place of birth unless it is relevant. Marks are awarded for analysing, not unnecessary biographical regurgitation and speculation.
When writing the body of your essay, avoid very short and long paragraphs. The rule is 2-3 paragraphs per page. Indents by one tab stop the first line of each paragraph, and do not leave a blank line between paragraphs.
Make sure that you are presenting the titles of your texts correctly. Long works should be presented in italics: Twelfth Night, Pride and Prejudice, Collected Poems. Short works are presented using inverted commas: ‘The Flea’ [short poem], ‘Araby'[short story].
When referencing a text do not plagiarize. You must always acknowledge clearly the sources of any materials you use, providing accurate and appropriate references as well as a bibliography.
Finally complete a bibliography listing all the books, journals and websites you consulted when researching your essay.
Proof read your essay and check for:
•Drifting from the question
•Unnecessary plot summary
•Very short and very long paragraphs
•Lack of analysis of quotations
•Incorrect presentation of bibliography