The exam season is almost within us!

A High School student will write MORE THAN 30 essays by the time he/she graduates. This could be in the form of a class task, a homework exercise or timed-essay in the exam. Essay writing can be quite demanding and many students go through High School without having grasped the essentials of a good essay writing.

To avert such a catastrophe falling on you, here are useful ways on how to successfully write a brilliant essay. Following the AMAZING IDEAS suggested here, step by step, is crucially beneficial in the short and long run. You will definitely ace it if you do! Good luck in all your endeavours.

NB: I would like to encourage you, dear reader, to read my earlier post  in order to fully understand academic writing at High School posted here:

Dispel Some Misconceptions

An essay should be written in a formal and impersonal way. This means it must be objective in its expression of ideas. Furthermore, it also means that specific reference to your personal opinion or to yourself as a performer of actions is usually avoided.

Personal Writing (To be avoided) Objective Writing (Instead, try this)
In my opinion .  . . It has been argued that . . . .
I believe that . . . Some writers claim . . . .
In my view . . . . Clearly, . . . It is clear that  . . . There is little that . . .
I undertook the survey/study . . . . The survey/study was undertaken . . . .
I propose to . . . It is proposed that . . . .
In this essay I will examine . . . . This essay examines . . . .

A note on paragraphing is also essential here:

Parts of a Paragraph

A paragraph is a group of sentences that communicates one main idea. Most paragraphs have three parts: a topic sentence, several supporting sentences, and a concluding sentence.

The topic sentence is the most important sentence in the paragraph. It is often the first sentence in a paragraph. It tells the reader what the paragraph is about.

Next comes the supporting sentences. These sentences give details, examples and reasons to explain the topic sentence. All of the supporting sentences must relate to the topic of the paragraph.

Some paragraphs end with a concluding sentence. The concluding sentence restates the main idea in different words. Here are some common ways to begin a concluding sentence: All in all …, As one can see …, Accordingly…

Writing An Essay Plan

The Question: This starts with the question you are going to respond to. Read it carefully. Then UNDERLINE THE KEY WORDS that will tell you what sort of approach to take (Analyse, Explore, Discuss, etc). Lastly, HIGHLIGHT key words relating to the question.

The planning gives a basic outline of your essay. Try using a “Spider diagram” or a “Pattern plan”- listing your points down – or “Mind-mapping” to brainstorm relevant ideas.

Why should you plan?

  • To ensure that you include all the information you will need.
  • It sets out your main ideas clearly.
  • To make sure that your essay has got structure by taking the reader through your answer in a logical and progressive way.
  • So that you answer the question fully.
  • So that you don’t run out of time in an examination.
  • You can also select your connecting words and phrases, as well as quotes (if any) to each point/idea to earlier and later points.

The Introduction

Writing an effective introduction is one of the most important skills you must learn. A good introduction should:

  • give your reader a taste of what your essay is about
  • lead your reader into the rest of the essay
  • encourage them to continue reading, because what you are writing seems clear and interesting.

Another important sentence is your Thesis Statement – usually, the last sentence of the introductory paragraph. It must present the TOPIC of your essay and also make a comment about your POSITION in relation to the topic. It must tell the reader what your essay is about. It is very important!

Take Note: An introduction must connect back to the question being asked. A simple way to gauge how good or bad your introduction is, is to try this simple technique: “Remove the introductory paragraph and show it to another student and have them tell you what the essay question is. If the answer is NOT quite what the actual question is, then something isn’t right.” REVISE IT!

The Body/Supporting Paragraphs – Follow the PEEE Technique!

This is the main body of your essay which should:

  • be clearly structured into well-organized paragraphs. A general rule is “one point = one paragraph”.
  • start with a topic sentence (POINT) making it clear what the paragraph is about.
  • have EVIDENCE to support your point. You do this through selecting a well-chosen quote; the quote should demonstrate the point you have made. It could be a sentence; phrase or a word.
  • EXPLAIN the link between your point and the evidence – how does the evidence support the point you have made?
  • What EFFECT does this have? How would the audience feel about this? Look at the author’s choice of language – what words does s/he use? What effect do these words have? Is what the author has done effective? What’s your personal response?

The Conclusion

A conclusion should not be a reworking of everything you have previously stated in your essay.  It is, instead, as crucial to the overall success of your essay as the other sections.  The conclusion needs to be a carefully constructed paragraph that ‘completes’ your argument.  It is an opportunity to leave the reader with a set of final, original ideas about the text that you have created yourself.  You should try to make a lasting impact in your conclusion, creating a paragraph that your reader remembers and show your own individual, intellectual and emotional engagement with the text that you are writing about.

Writing a good conclusion is important because it will:

  • round off your essay well, perhaps echoing your introduction to do so, usually in about 3-5 sentences in length.
  • leave your reader with a clear sense of what the essay was all about.
  • summarize all the points you have made clearly and concisely.

The format in writing a conclusion can be seen in three stages as:

  • A ‘general’ comment summarising the content of your essay.
  • A brief reference to one of the major points made in your essay.
  • A final summing up, perhaps including a specific, interesting detail.

You may find that you need more than one sentence to cover each point. As a rule of thumb having 3-5 sentences is fine.

Thus, a conclusion should contain NO new points and so no reference, as well.

Lastly, you will need to do some:


Always allow time for proof reading your work.  As a proof reading exercise, the mechanical process of checking through a document for error of: Spelling, Punctuation, Grammar (SPaG), Syntax, Repetition (of words, phrases or ideas) but also errors of fact is an essential undertaking.

You will also need to check that the work is divided into paragraphs of suitable (but varied) length, each as far as possible devoted to a discrete idea or aspect of the subject.

It is all about accuracy and therefore clarity of meaning, since the more inaccurate the piece of academic writing is, the more its clarity will be compromised.

My maxim: Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL is all yours. Good luck.


  1. JB says:

    Amazing tips! Will definitely be implementing these in my next writing session. Thanks alot! Cheers!

  2. andrew mutyavaviri says:

    I believe(very personal nd nt objective??) U left out sme pertinent issues.1-is it allowed to mix tenses eg using past tense nd reverting to future tense in one essay.2-can one possibly use verbose or flowery words/ phrases w brief xplanations there sure e essay looks nd sounds pleasing to e reader esp wen one includes idioms wise sayings a bit of modern slang here nd there3-is it encouraged to use very long or very short sentences in an essay4-can one quote verbatim .nd shud one always disclose e source of ones it legit to copy nd paste.

  3. Thanks for your interesting comments. Essays are written in the present tense using the active voice. Since it is an academic essay, flowery language/slang is not permitted unless you are quoting verbatim. Both short and long sentences are allowed as long as the meaning expressed is clear. It is always advisable to acknowledge sources or paraphrase your ideas as opposed to copy and paste. I hope this helps. Once again thanks for your contribution.

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