Advanced English Essay Writing Guide

Grade: HSC
Subject: English Advanced
Resource type: Notes
Written by: N/A
Year uploaded: 2021
Page length: 11



Resource Description

Advanced English Essay Writing Guide 

The 1st edition contained an extensive rant about the injustice of the 2 unit syllabus. I elected to save BOS the bandwidth this time, although I’ll put it up if people are bored enough to want to read it.

PREFACE (feel free to skip)

A quality essay will use excellent technique (essay structure, linkage, style) to accompany good material (relevant quotes and techniques). Technique can be learnt, adapted, applied and re-applied until it becomes a fully functioning part of your English arsenal to be used at will. In other words, once you learn it, it stays with you. Material, however, is disposable. You will probably use different material for EVERY essay you write, if your technique is good enough and you’re not some automaton that memorises essays for fun, in which case I salute you.

The stuff that is taught in class, and therefore the stuff you learn in class, is material. That is, quotes that are relevant, a new technique or two, or the historical context that helps a quote make sense. This is excellent if you’ve spent years 7-11 perfecting your essay writing style and structure. Unfortunately, you haven’t.

Teaching on essay writing in the classroom is usually restricted to writing an acronym on the board, usually PEAL (Point, Evidence, Analysis, Link), PACT (Purpose, Analysis, Context, Techniques) or even SEXY (Statement, Evidence, Xplanation and Your position – a BOS favorite, can’t imagine why :P). This is expected to jog your memory with stuff you’ve never been taught or were daydreaming when it was brought up (often the best case scenario). That’s where it’s usually left, and you immediately begin analysing the text because the exam’s only 5 weeks away. Most of the time, it’s not enough.

The most common issue with Advanced and Standard students is that they have no idea how to structure an essay. Often, I hear this in the form of ‘I don’t get English’ or ‘English is so subjective’ or ‘I give up, I don’t know what to do.’ The truth is: You already know everything you need to know in terms of what you have to write down on exam day. What this guide will do is show you how to order it and present it in a way that markers like. You will also find that once you get this down pat, your marks will improve freakishly. 


You’re a teenager. You have multiple commitments, including but not limited to your subjects (of which English is one of maybe 6 or 7), sports, social life, co-curricular activities, extracurricular activities and a pr0n collection that’s not going to get through itself. You’re busy.

Markers know this.

They’re not expecting some devastating Marxist critique of Shakespeare in a scene where no scholar has dared venture. They don’t want or need to know the post-colonial existential context of Jane Austen within the Hobbesian paradigm. Just keep it simple, understandable, and (above all) relevant. As a year 12 in NSW, you are one of sixty thousand people whom markers wish would write shorter, clearer, more concise sentences. And all they ever look for is: how material in a text answers the question they give you. Sophistication is no substitute for technique; the English syllabus is designed so that the top band is within reach of the stupidest kid, as long as they work hard. Essay technique is the base of your analysis. Sophistication is only the icing.

In other words: A simple sentence that answers the question is MUCH BETTER than a complex one that does not.

If you take nothing else out of this, know this: No amount of study you do will get you marks above somebody who has studied enough and whose essay writing technique is better.


Introductions are strange beasts. Many teachers claim they mean little to nothing, as long as your body paragraphs are good. Others claim that they set expectations which they mark to for the rest of the essay. Most markers fall somewhere in between. Intros do three things:

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