Four common essay mistakes: part 1…the case of the missing paragraphs…..

Four common essay mistakes- part 1

Hello, and welcome…it’s been a few weeks since my last video so I have to make up for that. I have a series of four videos in mind to make this week, all dealing with real student essays, all of which have one problem to focus on. In this video, I deal with something relatively straight forward, how to paragraph your essay. I know this is an obvious thing for many, but if this is your first ever essay…then it is not so obvious.

I remember when I was at Ruskin College, my first essay…I had no idea and just wrote down the first stream of consciousness that came into mind. Needless to say, it was rubbish. But that’s what happens when you write your first essay…so in this video today, you can see a refresher lesson in paragraphing. I have wrote about this before, and will no doubt do so again…

I will post the text and structure below for your edification…and if you have any questions, or video requests, you can write me at

For this type of essay, I suggest using a typical four paragraph structure. Although the structure sentence by sentence may vary according to how the question is worded, this is the general structure we might use. Of course, it is possible to combine several of these elements in a single sentence, the exact wording is up to you, as long as you remember the keywords from the criteria, logical progression/sequencing, and develop/extend/support of your ideas.

Essay structure.

Paragraph 1: introduction

Sentence 1: paraphrase question/restate topic.

Sentence 2: Thesis/opinion statement.

Sentence 3: outline statement/main idea 1 (for paragraph 2), and main idea 2 (for paragraph 3).

Body paragraph 1.

Sentence 1: topic sentence (main idea 1).

Sentence 2: explain/expand on main idea 1.

Sentence 3: example (the more specific the better).

Sentence 4: option 1(concession sentence)/option 2 (reinforce/reiterate example/main idea).

Body paragraph 2.

Sentence 1: topic sentence (main idea 2).

Sentence 2: explain/expand on main idea 2.

Sentence 3: example (the more specific the better).

Sentence 4: option 1(concession sentence)/option 2 (reinforce/reiterate example/main idea).


Sentence 1: summary (restate question/topic + main idea 1 and 2).

Sentence 2: suggestion/recommendation (depends on how the question is worded/if you can think of anything).

With the pressure on today’s young people to succeed academically, some people believe that non-academic subjects such as P.E and cookery should be removed from the syllabus so that children can focus solely on academic subjects.

To what extent do you agree or disagree?

It has been argued that non-academic lessons should be taken out from the school curriculum so that school children can focus purely on academic subjects. I disagree with this view and will argue that other subjects such as PE and cookery help to make children more rounded individuals, and secondly that as children are too young to know their future direction it makes sense to keep all their options open.

Firstly, we need to ask ourselves what is the purpose of education. That is to say, is it just to prepare children to fill various roles in society and to turn them into consumers and obedient wage slaves. If as some believe the purpose of education is to make children more rounded and open individuals then it would make sense to teach them skills other than academic ones such as PE and cookery so they can function better in later life. For example, the University of London conducted research in 2016 which showed that children who were taught a wide range of subjects at school described themselves as more content and able to “handle” lifes problems than those whose focus was purely academic.

Secondly, as children have their whole lives ahead of them does it make sense to define their future studies and life path at such a young age? I believe that children should be allowed to be children and to be taught a variety of subjects so that they may decide later where their interests lie. For example, research by the Dept of Employment in the UK in 2015 showed that 50% of employees expressed some regret over the subjects they took at school and their subsequent career path.

In conclusion, although a focus on pure academia may seem a good idea, I believe that exposure to a range of subjects allows children to be happier and have more life skills, and also may prevent them from taking an unsatisfying career path in the future.

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