Paper 2 Ė Step by Step Guide


Step1: (5 mins)

Read through all 6 questions (donít forget the General ones!)

Decide which one you would prefer to write your essay on

Often this will be decided by a gut reaction, hopefully one question which suits the texts we have studied will jump out at you. Be careful, though, to make sure that you will able to write about it for one and a half to two hours; itís no use writing about a question that you really love if you havenít actually got that much to say or if everything you have to say is all really obvious


Step2: (10 mins)

Brainstorm the elements / evidence from all 3 or 4 texts that might be even vaguely relevant to the question

Even if something seems way off put it down anyway because it might spark an interesting idea or connection that you would have missed otherwise

You will eventually only use 2 of the texts you have studied but it is helpful to be as open minded as possible at this stage


Step 3: (5 mins)

Look at your brainstorm and try to pick out interesting links between the elements youíve identified

These links will usually take the form of similarities or contrasts between the texts (often focussing on elements such as character, plot, setting, theme, motif, point of view, etc) but remember that no two texts will ever be exactly the same or completely different so donít force them to be. Keep your mind open to differences that exist within the obvious similarities or the similarities that are still present despite the apparent differences. Spotting these more subtle points will help you demonstrate a good understanding of the text.

Remember youíre going to have to write for about one to one and a half hours so you will need enough to say to last you the whole time; 3-5 well developed points should be enough


Step 4: (5 mins)

Now put these points into a structure. Decide which points will come first, second, third, etc Ö You might also have to decide which points to cut out Ė remember you donít need to write everything you know Ė so choose the points that are going to create the best impression.

Try to move from the more obvious points towards the less obvious / more interesting points


Step 5: (~ 1 / 1.5 hours)


Remember Ė good essays tend to be made up of a small number of quite long, detailed paragraphs

Each paragraph should contain more analysis or interpretation than quotation

Try to use quotations as evidence, but otherwise make your references to the text as specific as possible

Keep your intro short Ė because you have planned all of your points you can briefly introduce them here

The main body of your essay should revisit each of your points in turn and examine them in detail

Conclude with a short and powerful summary of your ideas, a most striking similarity / difference or, better still, a quotation that encapsulates the key differences between the two texts you have written about