Week 2


  • To gain a clear understanding of the essential elements of an essay.
  • To develop confidence when writing by becoming familiar with standard essay structure.

Sample Essay

Question: Busy, modern lifestyles make keeping fit and healthy difficult, so we all need to make an effort to avoid poor health. Discuss.

There is no doubt that in modern times our busy, stressful lives make it very difficult for us to maintain good health. Nowadays people are spending more and more time at work, and therefore have less time to keep fit. However, there are some simple steps we can make towards a better diet and regular exercise, which can quickly improve our health.

To begin with, the government recommends we eat six pieces of fresh fruit and vegetables each day, but many people complain this is difficult to do. An easy way to eat three or four is to snack on fruit, just put an apple, a banana and whatever other fruit is in season in your bag each morning, and be sure to eat them before you come home. Taking a little more time to eat a healthy lunch, instead of going to the nearest burger bar, will also help.

However, a healthy diet alone is not enough, we also need to get more exercise if we want to see an improvement in our health. Think before getting in the car, can you walk? Thinking about how you spend your free time can also help increase your fitness. Go hiking instead of to the cinema, or join a sports club instead of going shopping.

Improving our health and fitness is possible if we make some small changes to our daily lives. By paying more attention to our food, transport and leisure time choices we can see that there are easy, inexpensive ways to be healthier and enjoy life more.



  • Restate (paraphrase) the question in your first sentence. You should write as if your reader cannot see the question. This introduces the topic.
  • Grab the reader’s attention. Make a strong statement of opinion, also called the thesis statement (There is no doubt that…), ask a question or use a famous quote, proverb or expression. These techniques wake up the reader and make them want to keep reading.
  • Show direction to the reader in the last sentence of your introduction, let them know what the main points of the next paragraphs will be, and list them in the order they will appear.

Content Paragraphs

  • Signpost with a topic sentence at the beginning of each paragraph. This sentence introduces the main point of the paragraph clearly to the reader. Your reader should be able to know what the essays main points are even if they only read the introduction, topic sentences and conclusion.
  • Support your opinions. Give examples, suggestions and details to convince your reader that you are right. Just your opinion is never enough.
  • Stick to the plan! Don’t put in extra ideas just because you thought of them later? if they don’t support the point of the paragraph don’t use them. Don’t change the paragraph order, use the same order you used in the last sentence of your introduction.
  • Signpost more with transition signals, (also called discourse markers). Help the reader know if your next point or sentence is adding (In addition, further, moreover…), contrasting (However, on the other hand, despite this…) or just in a sequence (Firstly, Secondly, Finally).


  • Remind the reader of what you have already told them by summarizing the main points again. Do not introduce any new ideas!
  • Conclude with a memorable statement, an expression or quote that sums up your point of view, or authoritative (confident) language to express your opinion.

Process Notes

  • Try to think of the essay structure as similar to the structure of a house. Every house has a floor, walls and a ceiling, without these, it is not a house. After we build the basic structure of a house, we can decorate, paint and furnish it as we like. In your essay, your basic structure consists of the introduction, content paragraphs and conclusion, without these it is not an essay.
  • Imagine your reader is lost and very forgetful. You are their guide and should do everything you can to help them know where they are going (the introduction), where they are (the topic sentences of your content paragraphs), and where they have been (the conclusion) at all times. Help them stay on the path by giving them the clearest possible map you can.