1) The best essays do this:

 They have a clear structure: an introduction, middle (with paragraphing) and conclusion. The essay relates directly to the question set and does not 'drift'. The essay has good examples and uses 'primary' sources (i.e. Latin or Greek authors) and 'secondary' sources (i.e. modern authors). 'Primary' sources can give crucial evidence about the way that the ancient Romans or Greeks lived and thought. 'Secondary' sources give us modern views about the ways in which the ancients lived and thought. Sometimes you may need to say in your own words what you think these people mean and you may even come to different conclusions about the ways in which the ancients lived. Good essays indicate that the writer has their own ideas and has done their own work based on the surviving evidence in an interesting and innovative fashion. In addition, good essays are written in fluent English (most often on the word processor); with good spelling, punctuation and grammar.

 2) The worst do this:

They have no clear structure. They fail to answer the question set; often the writer simply puts down all that he or she knows. The writer shows no real understanding of the classical world and fails to present any evidence that is relevant either primary or secondary.

You can strive to write an essay that falls into category one by doing the following.

  1. Always write an essay plan before you begin
  2. Gather source material - primary and secondary sources that are relevant to your argument.
  3. Write a rough draft of the essay
  4. Read through your rough draft and make appropriate changes. In particular, make sure that your essay has: an introduction; a middle; a conclusion and a bibliography (see the checklist).
  5. Re-write your essay

Again if in doubt ask your teacher for assistance. They have had a lot of experience writing and marking essays and can help you to get the best marks for your essay.

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