Here’s everything you need to know about essay writing for IGCSE Literature!

When I was at school, they never taught us to write an essay. I actually just ignored essays most of the time and spent my energy enjoying the books and texts that were given. Big mistake. When it came to exams, I hadn’t a clue how to structure my answer and I just sort of threw everything I knew at the question in the hope that some of it were somehow useful. I didn’t plan because I didn’t know how, so I started writing and I would write almost infinite ideas, pages, and pages of thoughts organised into random, small paragraphs. This is exactly how not to write an essay.

Essay writing, like reading poetry, is an art, a skill, and a craft. You aren’t just magically born with the ability to write an amazing essay, you have to work hard at it and learn it, just like anything else. If you’re really not sure about essays, I would recommend far more than just reading this short section on them.

Thanks for reading! A really good place to start with basics on Essay Writing and Academic Writing are Scrbbly courses, you can find them on the links below:

Basic Essay Writing

Academic Writing

All our English Language and Literature courses

Writing an excellent essay

I can’t stress enough how important it is to learn to write essays. The older you get, the more important it becomes. Every English Literature question you do requires you to write an essay. Many English Language questions are also essay-based, or analysis based – and a paragraph of analysis is the same as a middle paragraph in a full essay. If you take or are planning to take humanities subjects – history, law, politics, classics, classical civilisation, sociology, film, art, music, drama, dance, architecture, geography, archaeology, religious studies, and more – these all require you to write essays as a main form of assessment. Therefore, you need them more and more the older you get, and the more you specialise. A Levels are mostly essay based on these subjects, and universities will be almost completely essay-based. Plus the type of essay you need to write gets harder and more complex as you go along, so there really is no better time to start learning essays than right now.

Why do I need to bother?

Even if you’re maths and science-minded, the higher levels of study (A-Level, University, Postgraduate) increasingly require you to write essays. Being a scientist that can write essays and communicate well is a very rare skill set to have, so it will make you more employable and advance your career much further than if you just ignore that part of it and focus on learning formulas and processes. I have a student at the moment who’s on track for a First Class degree in Engineering at university, except he’s got to do an 8000-word essay dissertation and he hasn’t got a clue where to start! So hopefully, you can see that no matter what kind of person you are if you’re aiming for good grades now and higher education in the future, then you absolutely have to learn to write essays.

Right, now that I’ve convinced you, we can actually get down to what essays are and how to do them. Every essay has a beginning, middle, and end. These are typically referred to as the following:


Over the next few paragraphs, I’ll break down below what each one should do for you.


  • Introduce your ideas on the question
  • Don’t introduce the book or spend ages introducing the context
  • Perhaps set up a debate by looking at different angles
  • Present a THESIS (very important!). Your thesis is a one-sentence answer to the question that summarises all your main thoughts and ideas. It is the main argument of your essay. The whole point of an essay is to develop a thesis, and then to explore and prove your thesis correct as you go through your middle paragraphs


  • To start with, master the PEE structure and get used to that
  • For students aiming for higher grades (B and above), you need to work on expanding that PEE structure – try a more advanced structure such as PETAL paragraphs. I personally do mine like this:



Technique / Device 


Development – alternative interpretation, extra evidence, and analysis or context analysis 

Link – link back to, but expand upon your original point, you could link to the thesis 


  • Don’t skip this because it is important!
  • The purpose of a conclusion is to summarise all of your main points and ideas again, so go back over your essay, find what you’re most proud of, and put it here.
  • You should also repeat, and ideally develop or slightly modify your thesis here.

These are the basics of essay writing. The best thing to do is to practise a lot and receive feedback. If you keep going, then you’ll end up at that point where you’re writing great essays!

Thanks for reading! A really good place to start with basics on Essay Writing and Academic Writing are Scrbbly courses, you can find them on the links below:

Basic Essay Writing

Academic Writing

All our English Language and Literature courses