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How to Write Essays

National Extension College

How to Write Essays


How to Write Essays

How to Write Essays guides learners through every stage of writing essays, from developing a plan, to writing, checking and presentation. The material can be used by learners on a wide range of courses, including GCSEs and A levels, and covers topics such as analysing the question, planning and essay structure. If you buy a multi-user licence you can share the book with colleagues in your school, college or organisation to use with the students they teach within that institution. 

Since How to Write Essays was first published it has helped many learners to develop their essay writing. This popular text provides a valuable resource that can help to save time for tutors and trainers looking to develop their students’ essay writing skills. Use the entire contents of the workbook or only the topics you need, for face-to-face teaching with your students, or as revision support or a home study aid. 

A single-user download allows you to use the material in your own teaching only. Read the full Licensing Terms & Conditions here.

Author:             Roger Lewis

Edition:             This edition first published 1999

Format:             PDF, A4

Page extent:     100 pages

About the author

NEC works with recognised leaders in the field of education and training, to develop resources designed and written by experienced authors who are also qualified subject experts.

Roger Lewis has had a long and varied career in education. He has taught in primary and secondary schools and in higher education. He was a Staff Tutor for the Open University and, later, Deputy Director of the National Extension College. In 1987 he joined the Open College and became Director of Education and Training. He has written many books on education, and courses for adult students.

Product description

This workbook is divided into 12 units. Units include an overview of what the unit covers; activities to check your understanding and practice the ideas in the unit; learning check to review what the unit covered and to check progress.

Unit 1 – Introduction

Who can use this material?

How is the material organised?

How long will it take?

Do I need any other resources?

Unit 2 – Writing to learn and communicate

Why essays seem difficult

Writing to learn

The differences between speaking and writing

A note on Units 3 to 11

Unit 3 – Analysing the question: key verbs and key ideas

Answering the question

Key verbs

Key ideas

Working out key verbs

List of key verbs

Unit 4 – Brainstorming and probing



Unit 5 – Taking notes

The purpose of note-taking

Using sources

Using your own words

Notes are personal

Unit 6 – Planning

Planning in daily life

Planning an essay

How people plan essays

Choosing a planning method

Key verbs again

Unit 7 – Paragraphing  

The planning stage and writing paragraphs

What is a paragraph?


Unit 8 – Drafting and checking


Unit 9 – Introductions and conclusions



How long should introductions and conclusions be?

Unit 10 – Getting your English right

How to write clearly

Unit 11 – Presentation

Before producing the final copy

Presenting the finished copy

After writing the finished copy

Unit 12 – Learning from comments


Using the comments of others


Appendix 1

Setting your own essay title

Appendix 2

Essays in examinations

Appendix 3

An essay writer’s checklist

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