It’s late. She (or he) has been working all day and has done another four hours since returning home – and they cooked the tea! They’re fed-up reading essays. Bored to death with reading essays. They all start the same way. ‘A few more to do and I’ll stop for the night,’ thinks the marker. She picks up the next persuasive essay in the pile. It begins, ‘This essay will argue against school uniform…‘ Aaaaargh! Where’s the gin?
I’m not trying to imply that markers would be anything other than utterly professional when marking essays or that they drink when marking! But they are human. And as humans we needed to be interested in what we’re doing to do it well. Especially in English which is a subject that is more effected by personal opinion, feelings and sense than most others. If an essay begins in an interesting way, the marker will already start having a positive impression of the essay. Will this help? Yes! Even if the essay starts going downhill, it still has a good beginning. If the essay is borderline, a good introduction will help it get the benefit of the doubt, and it will add to the admiration a marker has for an excellent persuasive essay.
So how do you do a good introduction? There’s a range of ways, incuding those below. However, there are some rules: it must be relevant; it must be interesting and it must be short (don’t use valuable words on a rambling introduction). Here are some types:
Effective introductions impress the marker. They show flair, creativity and style: these attributes are as important in English as they are in Art or other more renowned ‘creative’ subjects.
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In an argument you are making a series of linked statements that are supported with either reasons or evidence. If you’ve been methodical in your preparation for your essay then you should have a few points for the point of view which are going to persuade people to hold.
You take these points and any others – you may have points against your argument so that you can show skill in demonstrating why the opposition is wrong – and you then explain what you mean by that point.
It’s not always clear what a statement (point) means by itself; sometimes it requires explanation. For example, if you were writing an essay for an increase in tobacco taxes, then you may have the point ‘Smoking costs money.’ But it’s not clear what is meant by that. Yes, smoking costs money, but to whom? The smoker? The non-smoker? The NHS? It’s important for your essay that you are always being clear. This is why you have to explain exactly what you mean after you’ve typed your point.
Once you’ve done this then it’s time to support your point with evidence. There are many types of evidence that can be used in an essay. However, if there’s one important thing to remember it is that your essay must always support the point you make. This is why being clear is so important. If you’re clear about your point then you can judge whether the evidence you provide does substantiate that particular point.
So, this is the formula that you’ve now got:
P – Point
Ex – Explain the point
I – Illustrate with evidence
And here’s an example:
Smoking costs far too much money, more than we as a society can afford. (P) The ill health that smoking causes means that we have to pay more in taxes to fund the NHS; it means that there are more welfare claims due to absence and deteriorating health; and it means there is a less productive economy as there are more people missing work due to ill health. All this, at a time of austerity when important services are starting to be cut gives an idea of the price of smoking. (Ex) Studies have shown that £6 billion is spent by the NHS every year to care for the results of smoking on smokers and that these costs will rise as the cost of effective treatment for smoking related diseases increases. (I)
You can see there’s a clear point. It’s explaned so that the reader understands what is meant, and then the evidence that supports the point is relevant.
When you structure the main body of your essay this way, piling point upon point, then you start to have a coherent, structured and powerful argument. This is exactly what you’re looking for. When you add rhetorical techniques to your essay to increase its emotional power then you’ll be writing a very good folio piece. Don’t forget to spend time on your introduction and conclusion.
Here’s the same in video. Remember to sign up to myetutor for more help for Higher English.
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