Step 1: First Line: Something snappy, engaging: a quote, a recent event in the news, a short definition. Grasp your readers’ attention.
Step 2: Connect this first line with the question you are dealing with in your essay, show how they are connected or how the first helps you to slide into the second.
Step 3: Show your reader that there is a problem here. Most often, this is done by explaining what you think the key terms in the question mean, how they are related, and how this relation poses a problem. As the example opposite shows however, this is not always possible nor the easiest way forward.
Step 4: Tell your reader in one sentence what your answer will be.
Step 5: Tell your reader in one or two sentences how you are going to structure your argument in what follows.
As you can see, steps 4 and 5 do not need to be in that order, nor do they need to be separate sentences.
a. Questions indicate problems: we do not ask questions about things we do not feel puzzled about. Identifying the problem at the heart of the question is the first step towards articulating your answer.
b. Questions require answers: the aim is for you to provide your readers with an answer to THAT question. You are not being asked what you think of elites, nor are you being asked whether Britain is a democracy. This may sound obvious but you would be surprised at the number of essays that simply do not answer the question they start out with. In order to avoid doing this yourself make sure to write your answer down in a single sentence that you repeat in both the introduction and the conclusion. Please note that, providing you do answer the question, THERE IS NO “RIGHT” ANSWER to the questions asked. There are a number of possible answers, and it is the strength or your argument that will determine your mark, not whether the person marking you agrees with your answer.
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