Essays are often a large and incredibly important component of high school exams.
Your teen will most certainly have to write essays in their exams at the end of the year, and potentially not only for their ‘arts’ subjects.
Examiners are looking not only for an essay with sound content — they’re also looking for a well-constructed essay. This is why making an Essay Plan is something your teen should ALWAYS do before writing any essay, whether for practice or in an exam.
What is an Essay Plan?
An Essay Plan is simply a rough outline of what each paragraph in the essay is going to be about.
They are such a simple tool, yet SO effective. Crucially, Essay Plans achieve the following:
- They ensure your essay has a proper structure;
- They ensure essay flows in a logical order. When your teen launches into an essay without having made Essay Plan first, they’re leaving themselves open to writing about whatever pops into their head at the time, which means their essay might be confusing and read in an illogical order; AND
- They ensure your teen includes all the points they need to make. It’s easy to get caught up in your writing if you don’t have a plan to go by, which can mean you forget to include a really important point, only to realize once it’s too late!
How do you make an Essay Plan?
All an Essay Plan involves, is jotting down what the main point of each body paragraph is going to be.
For a really thorough Essay Plan, we recommend that your teen jots down what they intend to say in each paragraph according to what we refer to as the S.E.X.I. structure. (For a more detailed article on essay structure and S.E.X.I. click here)
Here is an example of the type of Essay Plan we would make before writing a hypothetical English essay about a film, in this case, The Matrix:
Making an Essay Plan should only take about 5–10 minutes, perhaps even less by the time of an exam, when you know what you’re going to be writing about really well. And crucially, you will get that time plus much more back when you’re writing your essay, because you basically already know what you’re going to say.
Most exams should provide space at the front exam booklet especially for planning. This is where your teen can make their Essay Plan.
Why we love Essay Plans
Students’ memories have a lot of pressure on them during exams, but this can be lessened by making quick Essay Plans before launching into an essay.
If your teen gets a bit stuck in the midst of their essay in an exam, all they have to do is refer to their Essay Plan, which will act like a prompt in a play when they forget what should come next. This, as well as the time Essay Plans can save you, is why they’re one of our favorite essay-writing techniques.