The adage ‘You never get a second chance to make a first impression’ holds true for essays as much as it does for social introductions. For today’s English literature A-levels, it is truer than ever, particularly in the case of longer discursive tasks where you respond to a viewpoint or a relatively open question. A good opening is not just a well-phrased start that wins the interest of your reader/examiner and leads to your main material — it is an integral part of an assured and sophisticated argument. So where does such an opening come from? Don’t worry — it doesn’t depend on a random moment of inspiration. A good opening, like a good essay, grows from a good plan.
High-performing students take planning seriously. A quarter of their time is spent reading, thinking and planning. And planning is a systematic process.
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