Essay technique: How to get GCSE students writing better introductions

A good essay always begins with a good introduction – here one English teacher shares her tips in the TES, for helping GCSE students to get off to a great start

Say what you’re going to say. Say it. Say what you’ve said.

Three sentences. That was all the instruction I was given on essay technique back when I was sitting my GCSEs. These were three sentences that stood me in good stead throughout GCSE, A level, degree and postgraduate study. Nice and simple, I thought.

Despite all of the planning we did in class, the students were still incapable of saying what they were going to say, and I was inundated with a stream of snore-worthy introductions that were all just a waste of ink and paper.

Thinking beyond the text

While these introductions technically introduced the focus of the students’ essays, they were frequently little more than a rephrasing of the essay question. And for my top set class, this was just not going to cut the band 6 mustard.

For high-ability students, the challenge of the new English literature GCSE is getting them to think beyond the confines of the text, while also developing conceptualised, coherent, critical responses. Not asking for much, then.

Brevity is key

To support this development, I taught the students that their introductions would consist of two sentences for the prose and drama texts. Concision and brevity were key in the teaching here.

By reducing the introduction to two critical sentences, my students were able to write a focused start to their essay, which also provided a shape and a direction that they could follow for the rest of their analysis, helping them to access the higher mark bands.

Read more Essay technique: How to get GCSE students writing better introductions

Have you got any other tips? What about for the ‘Conclusion’? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

Are you a trainee teacher, NQT, teacher, headteacher, parent or  just someone who cares about education and has something to get off  your chest in a Schools Improvement Guest Post? Follow this link for more details at the bottom of the page.

Don’t forget you can sign up to receive our daily email bulletin (around 7am) with all the latest schools news stories. Your details will never be given to anyone else and you can unsubscribe at any stage. Just follow this link.

We now have a Facebook page - please click to like!


Year 7 pupils make more progress in maths than English
It’s a myth that boys have beaten girls in A-level result
Categories: Exams, Secondary and Teaching.


  1. Olivia

    There are many tips for writing an essay, but you may still find it difficult to write it. Where to start, how to make it short, but roomy, without water and interesting, and most importantly, so that you stand out from the crowd. This service will easily help you with all these questions. Only the best writers, the cooperation with which will bring to you top work

Let us know what you think...