How to write an A-B grade essay at A2?

  • 0 votes

Hi guys, I've been struggling to write a decent English Literature essay for quite a while now. I am studying these Gothic texts: Frankenstein, Bloody Chamber and The Changeling. My main struggle is structuring the essays, I find it really hard to make the end of a paragraph flow to the next one. Also, is there a specific structure that I could follow similar to the PEE but at A2 level instead of GCSE? Thank you for your time.

Posted Fri 26th April, 2013 @ 21:32 by victoria

2 Answers

  • 4 votes

Hi Victoria,

I am doing A2 at the moment, too. I have done The Bloody Chamber, Frankenstein and Dr Faustus as part of my Edexcel A2 English coursework.

I tend to use this structure when writing each paragraph:

  1. State my point a the opening sentence
  2. Use the text to support it
  3. Elaborate using varied interpretations/contextual factors/reader response, LFS etc
  4. Include a second text for comparison/contrast/similarities
  5. Repeat step 3
  6. Reiterate my point in relation to the question

It is pretty similar to PEE as this is a standard format. This technique typically gives me A/A* as long as I include elements from all of the AO's.

As for fluidity, I'm not brilliant at this myself however at A2 it is normal that each paragraph is different from the last however still answers the question. This is really what brings fluidity - stating your point in relation to the question. Also make sure you're not jumping from one thing to something completely different. For example I wrote one paragraph on the dominance of women in TBC, contrasted it with the inferior role of women in Frankenstein and then in the next paragraph spoke aout "the beast in women" in TBC and primal desires.

Sorry if this is a bit confusing, don't be afraid to ask me anything about what I've written, I'd be happy to help.

Grace

Answered Sat 27th April, 2013 @ 08:16 by Grace
  • 1 vote

Hey Victoria,

I am doing A2 English Literature too, with pretty much the same advice as Grace, but I may be able to offer input on fluidity of structure.

I use numerous ways of structuring my essays:

  1. Use an ABABAB structure. So I am doing 'Wuthering Heights', 'Macbeth' and 'The Bloody Chamber'. For a straight-forward question of agree/disagree I would do Text A agree, Text A disagree, Text B agree, Text B disagree etc...the fluidity comes with the smart starters, so I would use 'Firstly, Text A supports this statement because...' and then counter it in the following paragraph: 'However, the text is limited in this assertion by...' This can then be enhanced by doing a mini-conclusion at the end of the Text's second paragraph which either disputes or agrees with the question; you need to think of it like you are leading a blind person (examiner) through an obstacle course: you need to hold their hand and lead them closely through your essay. Strange analogy but it helps me :P. The conclusion would then be evaluating the three texts in accordance to the question: 'as previously discussed, Text A agrees because of this, as does Text B, however, Text C differs because of this.' Be careful not to merely repeat the essay but instead EVALUATE it; the inclusion of context and authorial intent leads to a good A*/Band 6 conclusion ---- a 'contextual flourish' as my teacher calls it :) It links in your A04 and A03, whilst also gaining you Band 6 in A01.
  2. Second structure I use is 'Thesis A versus Thesis B' with an overall Thesis C conclusion. I use this structure when the question is more open and does not fit so well into the agree/disagree argument. This is great for fluidity becuase you choose themes throughout all of the texts and pit them together, so you end up with two monster paragraphs that discuss all three texts and a conclusion that ticks that 'evaluation' box on the mark scheme. A common theme is 'Religion versus Science' - a great one for context and the Gothic - or 'nature versus nurture' is a good one that pops up in my texts. Consider typical Gothic techniques to find more themes, so the supernatural leads me to a conflict of 'real versus imagined'. This structure, if done right, raises your register significantly.

Just a word of caution; if you are trying a different structure you need to be prepared to do more practice essays: they do not necessarily need to be timed at first because you should be focusing more on getting used to the new way of writing.

The introduction should always state your line of argument whilst also mentioning the texts you are writing about.

Hope this has helped and made sense; ask me for more clarification if need be.

Good luck either way :)

Tori

Answered Mon 6th May, 2013 @ 10:19 by Tori