How To Write An A-Level English Literature Essay

Literary analysis essays as many of you have known by now are more than summaries of poems, short stories or novels. To do well for Literature, one must possess an inquisitive mind and a critical eye for details.

Written Literature works especially for Shakespeare compilations encourages readers to appreciate and think through the textual contexts the author has interwoven into a beautiful modern-day reading piece.

This A-Level Subject itself leaves you often with more questions than answers.

If you are having doubts or unsure of how to start writing your assignments, look no further as we uncover for you the strategies to an award winning literature essay.

Many people often miss out the first and most important step to Ace their JC E-lit essays, that is: Planning.

Contrary to popular belief(s), planning an essay does not waste valuable exam time; instead it enables you to think deeper, more critically into the question that is tested.

This will ensure that your points and thesis fleshed out will be more relevant and outstanding.

  1. When planning an essay, make sure that you read the question.
  1. Highlight or underline the keywords or requirements
  1. Be sure to control time spent on each question!

Here is an overview breakdown of the time you should be spending on each essay question:

– Question Analysis & Reading of questions or sections: 3 minutes

– Essay Planning: 5 to 7 minutes

– Writing of essays: 45 minutes max or each essay

(Minimum 5 double-sided pages long.)

– Additional 5 minutes to gather quotes and evidences to support your thesis/points

(Excluding unseen poetry and prose section.)

Total: 2 hours


Usually a Literature paper would consist of an unseen poetry and prose section plus the essay writing components. However, as a starter today we will focus only on writing a Distinction Literature Essay Article.

Most schools teach students to write in a standardised G.I.S.T Format. This is a rough guide to structure any paragraphs, nonetheless, it is not necessary to follow it unless you do not have a natural flair for writing and require a scaffolding to help you start.

G- Grabber



T-Tie Back (Answering the Question)

The Grabber is a header that attracts the attention of your examiner or marker. This can be in the form of a quotation Alternatively, if you do not have time, skip this step and move onto your I.S.T.

Interpretation refers to you personal response, a summary of your essay and understanding of the question’s requirements.

Stand is your thesis statement that is a declarative, debatable viewpoint.

It has to be refutable yet bear in mind to keep it generic for wider scope of discussion to argue for or against later on in the developmental body paragraphs.

A overly specific stand will only restrict your ability to generate sufficient points, results in a less convincing, persuasive written piece of work.

Tie-Back– No new ideas should appear in this part of the paragraph. A tie-back relates back to your point that you are trying to make that answers to the question as directly as possible.

Remember that a good piece of argumentative literature essay has to have sufficient evidence to support or counter your thesis. A general rule of thumb is to stick to 3 body paragraphs. Align your points by presenting a logical progression of your argument. Do not organise your points to the plot of a text.


Introduction (Stand/Thesis)

3 Body Paragraphs (GIST)

Conclusion (Tie-Back)

That is it folks, sweet and simple to follow?

We hope you can start penning down some ideas onto paper already, if so, have a Happy Literature Revision !

Stay tune to more tips and advice to Ace that dreadful Lit paper.

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