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Essay Writing and Presentations

Essay writing

One of the most common forms of extended writing that you will need to complete in sixth form is an academic essay. Whilst the specific assessment criteria and requirements may vary across your subjects, there are some general principles for what makes a successful essay. 

Understanding the question 

You can see an interactive version of essay 'key words' definitions and how they relate to key study skills here:

Essay Planning

Ensuring that you research and plan your writing effectively is also an important step.

If you are writing a short essay as practice for timed writing under exam conditions then you may find this guide to the 'two minute essay plan' is all you  need!

Alternatively, here you will find a step-by-step process to writing and redrafting a longer essay (e.g. a coursework assignment):

And here is a more detailed guide to the process of planning and structuring academic work:

Essay Structure

Here are some further details about the sections that a successful essay might typically be expected to include:

Introduction, paragraphs and conclusion


The introduction is a paragraph that ‘introduces’ the reader to what you are going to be writing about. If you have any unusual or specific keywords or terminology, explain them here to provide clarity for the reader. Remember, this is just the introduction so do not talk in detail about any of your points, that will happen in the main body of the essay (see paragraphs).

In summary it should include the following points:

  • Explain what the essay is about
  • Explain any keywords or terminology that you are going to use
  • Be clear and precise
  • Do not start explaining your points


Your paragraphs are the main body of your essay. It may be helpful to think of each paragraph as a mini essay in that you are introducing the point, explaining it, providing evidence and summarising it. Equally, do not fall into the trap of narrating or ‘telling the story’; keep focussed upon the point you are making. You may find the acrostics below (PEEL and PESEL) helpful in remaining focussed, precise and analytical in your responses.



make your point


explain your reasoning


provide the evidence that proves your point


link to the question and the next paragraph



make your point


explain your reasoning


support your point with evidence


evaluate your point and evidence


link to the next paragraph


The conclusion is a paragraph that ‘concludes’ or summarises your essay. This will include the main points/conclusions and evidence that you have used. It will not include any new points not mentioned in the essay.

In summary it should include the following points:

  • Summarise your essay
  • Conclude and summarise your main points
  • Do not include any new points

Signposting is a really useful tool to help you structure your essay and provide clarity for your reader.

Signposting can be divided into two broad categories:

Major signposts

These highlight key aspects of the work, such as purpose, structure, author’s opinion, main points, direction of the argument, conclusions.

Examples of major signposts:

  • The aim of this study is to…
  • The purpose of this essay is to…
  • This essay argues that…
  • There is a lot of academic literature about this issue…
  • This essay begins by… It will then go on to… Finally…
  • This paragraph will focus upon…
  • In conclusion…

Linking words and phrases or connectives

These show connections between sentences and paragraphs.

Examples of linking words and phrases:

  • Listing: firstly, secondly, finally
  • Indicating addition or similarity: also, in addition, furthermore, similarly
  • Indicating contrast: however, nevertheless, on the other hand
  • Giving a reason: for this reason, because, due to…
  • Indicating result or consequence: therefore, as a result, consequently
  • Reformulating an idea: in other words, to put it simply, that is…
  • Using examples: for example, for instance

Taken from:


Once you have completed your essay, then it is good practice to proof-read it carefully before you hand it in for marking. Use this checklist from the University of Sheffield.

You can get further ideas from this editing checklist

Receiving Feedback

Once your essay has been marked and returned to you, it may be tempting to put it in your folder of work and forget about it. However, it is really important that you review your feedback carefully, logging what you did well and what you need to improve on. Set these improvements as a target for yourself in the next piece of work you complete (and you can do this across your subjects as well as in the same subject). This way, you can be sure that you are gradually but consistently developing your essay style and technique.

You can get more ideas about planning and writing effective essays here:


Whilst the thought of standing up and delivering a presentation to your classmates may initially seem a little daunting, presentation skills are an essential part of preparing for any sort of professional career. They will also help get you ready for any sort of interview process in the future! 

Luckily, there is lots of advice around how to plan and deliver an effective presentation. Some of the links below are useful starting points for you.

This article from Elevate Education is a good place to start:

If you want to explore presentations in greater depth, then try these university resources: