Write For Us

We Are Constantly Looking For Writers And Contributors To Help Us Create Great Content For Our Blog Visitors.

Top Tips For GCSE English Essay Techniques
English Literature

Top Tips For GCSE English Essay Techniques

May 31, 2023    |    0

Exam techniques for GCSE English Literature and Language

Super Tutor Bryony reveals her…

Top Tips for English Essay Writing

Here are some top tips to help you tackle those tricky essay questions! Below you will find a step-by-step breakdown of how to write a top mark essay response.


This needs to be a short paragraph (no more than three lines), summing up what you will be writing about. In other words, this is what your argument will be. Make sure you answer the essay question. What is the bigger picture for your essay? Having an overriding argument will help to keep your paragraphs clear and concise. For example, if the exam question asked: 

In The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, how does Stevenson present Mr. Hyde in the extract?’ 

Your argument might be:

‘Mr. Hyde is presented as a mysterious character in the extract, therefore contributing to Mr. Hyde’s overall position as an outsider throughout the novel.’ Your overriding argument, in simpler terms, would therefore be: ‘Mr. Hyde is mysterious and an outsider.’ This is what all of your points should be aiming to prove!

Aim to bring in some context into your introduction. This will show the examiner how well you understand the text.

Main body paragraphs:

Each paragraph should begin with an opening point. For example, how the writer is achieving something. If we are looking at how Mr. Hyde is mysterious, or how fate is shown in Romeo and Juliet, then we need to explain how the writer is doing this. What language techniques, or structural techniques, are they using?

After your opening point, you need to give evidence by using a quote. Where is the writer achieving this? After giving the examiner your evidence, you can then analyse the quote. Your analysis should explain how the quotation supports your point. In other words: what is the quote showing us? To show a wide understanding of the text, you could also discuss other interpretations of the quote.  Zooming in on specific words within that quote will help you towards those top marks!  Where relevant to your argument, weave in context and supporting quotes from elsewhere in the text.  Conclude each paragraph with a mini (around one sentence) conclusion; this should always link to your opening point. This is what I call the sandwich technique. 



…………………………………………………..The Sandwich Technique:

Your opening point is the bread on top, your quotation is the lettuce, the technique analysed (i.e., metaphor, simile, iambic pentameter, etc…) is the tomato, your analysis is the meat and your concluding comment is the bread underneath – how does everything you’ve just said explain your point? The added sauce (making the sandwich extra tasty!) is reference to wider context and elsewhere in the text. To put it simply:

Bread – opening point

Lettuce – quotation

Tomato – technique

Meat – analysis

Bread – mini conclusion

Extra tasty sauce – context/text’s wider themes


Your conclusion should summarise the points you have made in your main body paragraphs. It should also explain your overall opinion on the question. This is a great opportunity to clearly answer the question the exam asks. To do this, write a brief summary of each of your paragraphs’ main points, making for a strong conclusion. Include a final sentence that thinks about a wider point, such as a social question. What is the writer’s overarching intention? Why does Stevenson present Mr. Hyde as mysterious? What might he be trying to say about society as a whole during his time? Why does Priestley present Mr Birling in An Inspector Calls as selfish? Does his play aim to make a comment about the class systems that were in place?