Maybe your child has memorized every line of their textbooks – sometimes, that’s not enough. GCSE exams aren’t just about knowing the material. In many subjects, particularly the humanities, you also need to demonstrate an ability to make an argument and present your knowledge in a well-structured essay.
It’s common for parents to forget about essay skills when they’re helping their teens revise, but it’s a crucial skill to develop. Here are just a few ways you can help increase their proficiency.
Revise Planning and Structure
Before you even start writing an essay, you need to come up with a rough plan that follows a certain structure. For GCSE exams, this generally means having:
- An introduction that states your main argument
- A paragraph for each point you’re trying to make
- A conclusion to sum up your points and how they advance your argument
If your child isn’t able to plan out a rough structure, they could spend too long on one point or fail to advance a single cohesive argument. Ultimately, poor structuring leads to poor grades, so try revising the elements of a good essay structure. You can also set mock exams in which your child only needs to plan out the rough structure of their argument – this provides a chance to practice planning without having to write a whole essay.
Repeat Similar Questions
Mock essays are a great way to work on style, formatting, and time management. If your child finds essays challenging, try setting similar questions so they can focus on those core essay-writing concepts without having to concentrate too hard on the material.
Use Questions from Their Own Interests
Finally, remember that you don’t have to stick to the set texts at all. Essays can be written about anything, so consider your teen’s interests. Are they mad about a certain movie or TV show? Do they have a certain hobby? Find something they enjoy, then set an essay based around it. Remember, you’re brushing up on essay writing skills, not focusing on a certain subject or topic.