How to write an essay: 7 tips for A Level students

Posted February 1, 2015 by Hacks Staff

Essay writing takes a leap at A-level and many aren’t quite prepared for it: Here’s 7 ways to get you on your way to a killer essay.

Start with a good structure

ANY good essay should have a good, solid structure: A clear beginning, middle and end, just like any other piece of writing.

Begin with a strong introduction which should establish the topic of your essay, give the reader a concise overview of what it will be about and inform them of what can be expected in the main body.

The body should contain the vast majority of your content, starting with some background information before explaining and developing arguments and adding analysis of the essay subject.

Finally, the essay will end as strongly as it started with a conclusion that summarises and evaluates the body’s arguments.

Make it interesting

While your essay should follow a good structure at the same time you don’t want to come across as just another bland by-the-numbers piece of writing.

For example, ditch the cliche introduction of “In my essay I will be writing about…” and get a bit more inventive and creative.

Whip out your thesaurus and vary your vocabulary – just don’t do a Joey!

See it from both sides

A good essay isn’t one that just puts your argument across but one which also counters any opposing views. Think of possible counter arguments that may be leveled and anticipate them with well thought out responses or rebuttals.

Be critical

An A-grade essay will see critical analysis of the subject topic and development of the ideas involved, as opposed to simple regurgitation of what you may have researched or learned in class. You’ll want to show not only that you know about the subject but actually understand it, for example by discussing the implications or effects of any arguments.

Learn to PEEL and not PEE

YAY for acronyms! Here’s one you want to make sure you get right: The main body of essay should consist of what can be referred to as ‘PEEL’ paragraphs:

  • P: Make your POINT
  • E: EXPLAIN it
  • E: Support it with EVIDENCE
  • L: Make sure it LINKS in

Many students struggle to get top marks because they end up PEE-ing, writing some good arguments but ones that fail to link into either one another or the main essay topic.

Finish on a strong conclusion

The conclusion shouldn’t really be a one or two line afterthought. Instead it should link directly back to all of your previous writing, referencing key points and arguments (but not just repeating them) and ultimately end right back to the original essay topic with an answer to the question that was posed.


Really goes without saying but whether it’s just a casual letter or a full blown University essay: Proofread your writing! Not just once or twice but a number of times, especially if you decide to make any changes. Ask a friend or family member to read through it to see if they spot anything wrong you may have missed.

What are some of your own essay writing tips? Add your comments below!

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