For most, English is a confusing subject that has no apparent real answer or conclusion. Many people think like this and thus lean towards other subjects due to their more “logical” methods to arrive at an answer. What if I told you the same thought process exists in English? What if i told you that all your English related woes and distresses could be solved with one very simple thing? Well, let’s explore it a bit, shall we?
The basis of everything in English is context. Without context, your answer has no factual, logical backing and therefore misses the mark. Its a shame that some schools skip over the importance of context but at least you’re here reading this article. Context informs your opinion, and as a student whose understanding and exposure to literature is relatively limited, is the cornerstone of your English journey and must not be neglected. To ensure better results in English, make it a priority to fully comprehend the author’s context. To go a step further, you want to focus on their social, cultural, historic, religious, physical, personal and rhetorical context. With these in mind, your understanding of the text in its entirety will exponentially increase, allowing you to answer questions with the ‘logic’ necessary to do so.
Now that you have the context necessary to inform your understanding of the text, we need to be able to break down essay questions in order to 1) understand what is being asked of us and 2) what key words/phrases/points need to be addressed in your answer to the question. To do this, it’s very simple; dumb down every word possible in the question OR use the definition of a word rather than the word itself if its to complicated and read the question in parts before putting it all together. When you do this, you simplify the question, helping you to quickly synthesise an answer and begin constructing your response.
Now that you have a proper understanding of the question, based upon a thorough understanding of the author’s context, all that’s left is your ability to follow a logical structure. Some people use PEEL, some use TEAL, either or doesn’t matter as long as you have a set structure that you consistently use. As long as you provide evidence coupled with a technique, that you then explain whilst linking back to the question, you’re good to go!!