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How do I write a really good essay?

I've been struggling for about a year in my English Literature and History A-Level classes as I just can't write a persuasive, flowing, coherent and comprehensive essay. The main problem I think is that my structure is messy and I stray from the topic a lot so the teacher marking my work gets confused. Another issue with my work is that it is rarely persuasive, but I don't really know where I am going wrong or why. I would love some actual advice, so far all I have got from my teachers is 'oh, make it more concise' but I need actual instructions on what to do next, what to change, because I'm a hard working student and I will literally do what ever it takes to get an A this summer. 
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1 Answer

Hi Katie,
 
What we can offer here is rather limited.  If you need more help, there are many great tutors available to work with your particular need(s).
 
The best advice I would give you is to take time before you write an essay.  Don't focus on what position you plan to take, but focus on the examples you should use.  Take a position that you can defend well.  (Also, notice that I said "examples".  For persuasive essays, as much as possible use concrete examples, not just reasoning.)
 
Then, take time to make an outline and pre-write your thesis statement.  The best way to organize your essay may not be the the way the examples come to mind.  Organize them in a logical way.
 
When your done writing, take time to proofread.
 
One more thought ...  If you haven't done this yet, re-write one of your essays based on your teacher's comments.  Bring it back to the teacher, and you should understand better how the teacher wants you to write your essays.
 
I hope this helps.
 
Paul L.
 

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Hi Paul, thankyou for your advice! I never actually thought that the way examples come to mind may not be the best way to organise my essay, but I will take this into consideration when I do my next one! I actually have re-written a few of my essays for my teachers now, and that was when they gave me their best advice, because my mistakes were re-enforced and so clearer for them to point out. Thanks a lot! I am writing a project on Ivan the Terrible at the moment and will use your advice when I write it! 
Thanks for your response.
 
Regarding organization, think about the flow of your essay.  Sometimes chronological order works well, sometimes going from local to national to international is best, etc.  Regarding Ivan the Terrible, you could move from personal to national to international; or from politics to economy to culture ...  You'll probably find that one thought leads easily to another.
 
Good luck.  I'm sure you'll do well.