You will start to get an idea of how to write texts and sentences from your very first year at school.

This is the point why English is a compulsory subject since it draws a logical conclusion to your time at school and shows how well students and people generally are able to answer questions they've read in a text, and make a clear point and argument across the body paragraphs of their essay.

To write an essay, students can also engage in independent learning with online learning module systems and resources.

These can help them identify the evidence from the text they want to present and the points they want to make their argument about. The ability to make a statement and follow the structure of the essay, all while being able to answer the question about the topic is one example of the resources people can draw on day to day in the life, so this goes beyond just school and university academic learning.

The main ideas students can show in the writing of their HSC or VCE English essay can be a fantastic example of the ways they've been able to don a thinking cap during year 12 and their time at school generally.

It also shows how well they can engage in analysis of main ideas in a text, and how sure they are of their academic learning which they've acquired throughout their education.

Get a general understanding of VCE English exams here.

Planning your essay can make the structure take shape.
Planning your essay first can help give structure to the body. | Source: Unlike.net

In an essay structure as you have to present your ideas in a certain way so that the reader gets the point clearly and can understanding your supporting evidence and flow of themes while you write.

The key structure of the essay includes the thesis statement, the introduction, examples to support your ideas, topic sentences in body paragraphs, main ideas in body paragraphs, and a conclusion, all of which guide you to a logical point from start to finish, making an overall argument.

VCE and HSC English is compulsory, and there are three strands, all of which have an essay component: General English, English Literature, and English Language. 

This guide points out some of the best ways to follow HSC and VCE English essay structure and how to answer questions about text analysis well so that your sentences all form one cohesive whole when you write the essay in the final exam.

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General English

This is the most commonly studied of the Englishes given that it is the most general. Seeing as the course is also compulsory Australia wide, this also accounts for why many students will opt for this stream. It is still very academic and has a large essay writing focus.

The topics you'll cover often centre around identity and social issues, and the interplay that these have with English and language. Your classes will engage you in debates and reading books and articles on various themes, which can vary from year to year, but are often centred around Australian identity and being able to infer meaning from text.

The written component of this subject is often about crafting an opinion that can be easily followed and being able to put this in writing, typically starting with learning about paragraphs and then crafting these into a cohesive piece of work in an essay.

Come back and review your knowledge of the features of an English essay.

Essays in General English

The essay in this subject is a core focus of the final exam, which lasts three hours and expects you to give answers to a few short answer questions before moving onto a final essay for which you are expected to have read and understood the themes in class, and subsequently memorised quotes from.

You will be tested on your ability to critically engage with these themes and concrete ideas also, rather than simply being able to memorise blocks of text. This is seen as a complex means of crafting your own argument which is a culmination of all your education up to year 12.

A high scoring essay will show a) correct structure, b) understanding of the text, c) ability to be critical of the text, and d) ability to apply this to a real-world context.

Blocking the text into main ideas for paragraphs
By sorting the text into your main ideas, you can guide your paragraphs more easily. | Source: Suffolk Gazette

Essay Structure in General English

You will have to have all the main features mentioned above - thesis statement for main argument, body paragraphs, intro, conclusion etc - so that the flow is there. Remember also, you will be marked on the correct structuring of arguments, paragraphs, and the overall essay.

Being fancy in this regard will not serve you well, so you are advised to stick pro forma to the study guide that your teacher will show you and is available online.

Also make sure there is a clear link between your ideas and that they always relate back to the thesis statement, as the sub-points need to relate back to your overall discussion and thrust of your argument.

Find interesting VCE English tutors here on Superprof.

English Literature

This is the most text focussed of the three Englishes, and arguably the most critical of all. It requires the most independent learning from students in that there are multiple texts - plays, films, novels, poetry - that you will engage with throughout the year. You need to read and watch these and be able to employ the skills acquired in class to critically evaluate the sections under study.

You will also need to show good planning and time management skills to be able to fit this all in and create time to reflect on the themes and skills you've witnessed during your education in this subject.

In the 8 months or so you will have between day 1 of term 1 and the final English Literature exam, the multiple texts you'll cover need to be known inside and out, so you will read at least once together in class, then need to read again in your own time. 

The skills your teacher will work on with you and features of the text you'll need to know how to identify include: author's voice and tone, choice of imagery and writing style for dramatic effect, character relationships and story arcs, and ability to critically evaluate these in relation to historical or present-day settings.

Discover how to efficiently revise for your English exams.

English Literature bears a slightly different essay style.
The passage analysis in English Literature will be slightly different in format than the other streams.

Essays in English Literature

There is more passage analysis in a lit essay than a traditional essay, so you have a little bit more leeway in how you structure them. Nevertheless, you need to adhere to a certain structure that shows your ideas clearly.

In this regard, you need to go more in-depth into the text that you find in front of you at the time and contextualise this within the entire text or body of work you've read in class.

The essay should thus present your main argument generally, but it should be more considerate and summarise the features you can see on the page before you discuss.

As English Literature is about the interpretation of the text, you will get a good mark for critically and logically showing a comparison between the two sections of text in front of you, taking into account their similarities and differences. This is also exactly what the final exam will test.

Essay Structure in English Literature

As we said, there is no concrete structure for this one, but sticking to paragraphs for the different points you want to make will be helpful. Further, rather than presenting a thesis statement and linking all paragraphs to it with topic sentences, you can just summarise like we mentioned what the overall point of the author's intention of each passage may be.

This will be done in an introductory and concluding paragraph, with the student being able to just launch into the features they see and describing their importance (as well as their own personal interpretation of the passage) instead of introducing, explaining, giving evidence for, and expanding upon these ideas, since this is already done in the discussion of said features.

Find out what a text analysis involves.

English Language

This stream is the most "scientific" of the three HSC / VCE subjects, in that it has a much more linguistic focus. This subject covers how English and language are used to show meaning in real-life contexts and will not study texts per se, but rather the functionality of discourse and communications, both written and oral.

Much of the main themes centres around relationship and meaning, formality and purpose, inferred meaning from texts and grammar, and pragmatic and semantic contextualisation of language.

Find interesting English tutors Melbourne here on Superprof.

Discourse is the main focus on the English Language stream at VCE.
Your essay will have to focus on discourse and linguistic issues in English Language VCE. | Source: Getty Images

Essays in English Language

There is still an essay component to this stream, in that the final exam asks you to reflect critically on a topic related to language, however, you only have to follow the structure of the thesis statement, introduction, topic sentences, body paragraphs, and conclusion for the sake of clarity and layout rather than to adhere to a particular standard.

The final exam format looks at differences between formal and informal interactions, critical discourse analysis, and sociolinguistic essays that show your understanding of the role of English and language generally.

Essay Structure in English Language

Following the paragraph and general essay structure will be useful for you as the points you need to make are very concrete and clear, thus presenting them in a way that is unambiguous will get you a good score.

Also, consider drawing on research about linguistics in your essay to show the breadth of your understanding when it comes time to show evidence in your body paragraphs. Be sure to use logical links between your paragraphs to guide your main argument about the essay topic rather than just jumping from one to the next.

Hopefully, this article has provided an overview of what to expect when structuring an essay in any of these English streams!

Find interesting English tutor here on Superprof.

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