For many students, revision for English language and literature can be quite difficult. When you revise for maths, you can do practice questions to your heart’s content. For science and other topics that rely on remembering facts, things are easy, too! You can make flashcards and play memory games. Anything to help you get the facts in your head! What about essay subjects, though? Well, it’s all about essay feedback!
Of course, you still need to know the facts. You should make sure that you know the key events, quotes and characters of the texts you’re studying, for example. Plus, it is vital to brush up on subject terminology. However, that doesn’t really take very long. Most of your marks come from writing, so you need to find a way to improve how you write. That’s why feedback is so important.
If you want to do better in English, you need to put your writing skills to the test. Make sure you get feedback from someone who knows what the examiner is looking for. Then, make changes to your writing based on that feedback. That will help you to meet – and even pass – your predicted grades.
It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it! After all, English language is a compulsory subject. You’ve got to keep taking it until you pass or you turn 18. Most jobs, apprenticeships and degree programmes expect you to have passed at least maths and English. So, you might as well get it right the first time!
Here are my best facts on how essay feedback can help you.
You Can Improve Your Writing Stamina
Let’s face it. Most of us can’t write for very long. That has always been a problem with students. We get a sore wrist. Our writer’s bump starts to act up in the middle of a paragraph. Writing with an actual pen on real paper sucks!
However, things were made worse with the lockdown and homeschooling. Most students spent the whole time typing their answers in English. I bet we can all type super fast now! But then the lockdown ended and we had to go back to school. Most schools don’t let you type in class unless you have a medical reason. The same goes for exams, too!
I’ve seen it for myself. Students are shocked that they need to write a whole paragraph in five minutes. Their writing stamina is as low as can be right now. They don’t know that they’re capable of writing loads. They don’t even know if they can come up with the ideas and words to write enough in time. So many students doubt themselves way too much.
The best way to get back into the habit of writing loads is to just write. Get a pen out. Grab some paper – or your book. Of course, your writing isn’t going to be perfect straight away. You might compare it to what you typed in 2020 and hate it! It is the first step, though.
When you get regular essay feedback, you have no choice but to write. You give your essay to your teacher and they give you tips to improve. Then, you write a new essay that (hopefully) takes their tips into account. You have someone holding you accountable for writing essays, so you’ll have to get on with it! Pretty soon, exams will be nothing to you!
Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar Becomes Second Nature
One of the places where students really lose marks is with their spelling, punctuation and grammar (SPaG). I’ve seen students use text speech in their essays. I’ve had to correct students who struggle with the difference between “your” and “you’re”. In fact, I don’t think there’s a spelling or grammar issue that I haven’t seen!
When you are writing an essay for me (or your teacher), the stakes are low. You aren’t going to fail a GCSE or A-level, so you’re free to make any mistake! Of course, don’t do this on purpose – please! Treat it like a real exam. That’s how you will get the most practice. I will then give you feedback on your essay that lets you know how you can do better next time. It’s up to you to take that advice and use it to improve.
The more essays you do, the more opportunities you have to improve your SPaG. At first, you are going to have to make a conscious effort to improve. You will have to say to yourself “last time I used the wrong ‘your’. This time, I will make sure to use the right one.” You will have to think about how you can take the feedback on board and use it to keep doing better. Just make sure that you don’t make the same mistake over and over again!
However, pretty soon, you won’t need to think about it anymore! When you improve your SPaG, you start with a conscious effort. Then, once you’ve used the correct spelling or grammar rule enough times, you will just do it naturally. That will mean that you don’t have to think about so much in your exams! You can focus on making good arguments and finding great quotes, instead!
Good Essay Feedback is Positive
When a teacher or tutor gives you feedback on your writing, they should always tell you what you did well. This is very useful because it helps you to stay positive. You feel like it is possible for you to get the grade you deserve because you know you are on the right track in some ways. Yes, there might be some things that you need to work on. However, it’s not all bad! You do a lot of good stuff, too! That kind of attitude will keep your spirits high and stop you from giving up.
There is another, equally important reason why positive essay feedback is so useful, though. To put it simply, you won’t change the things you did well.
If a teacher focuses on all the things you need to do better, you might feel like everything you did is wrong. As a result, you might change your whole essay structure and miss out on the things you did really well! After all, the process of trial and error only works if you know how close you are to the right answer.
Positive feedback can help with that. A good teacher or tutor will tell you what went well before they give you any other advice. That’s them telling you to keep doing what you’re doing. It gives you a great scaffold to help you. If your structure is good, you know you don’t need to change that. That gives you a lot less to think about in the long run.
Sometimes, we might feel like the exams are out of our reach. That’s why we need positive essay feedback. it helps us to know that we’re not too far from our goals!
The Feedback is Personal and Specific
General English language and literature can often feel quite vague. Write well. Use quotes. Analyse language. Use subject terminology. We get those things. We understand them. But how exactly should we do them? What do those things mean for you personally?
After all, English isn’t like maths or science. There isn’t one right answer that you need to find or remember. There are multiple things that you can say, and there are multiple ways that you could express your ideas. General writing tips might work well for you if you are just starting on your English journey. However, as you strive for high grades like 8s and 9s, they won’t mean a whole lot anymore.
If you feel like you’re already doing all of the things that BBC Bitesize or your revision guide recommend, it is time for you to get some personal essay feedback. You need to get tips from someone who knows what the exam board wants. You need to find out how well your words and structure express what you want to say. Did you choose good quotes? How is your vocab? That kind of feedback needs to be personal and specific.
Then there’s the fact that what you write will depend on your set texts and exam extracts. I can’t tell you to talk about metaphors because there might be none in the extract you’re reading. I can’t tell you to talk about stage directions if you’re writing about a novel. Good tips need to depend on your personal circumstances. That’s why you should have someone look at your essay.
The tips I give you won’t be the same as the tips I give your best friend – or even your identical twin! It’s about you and you alone. That’s what makes essay feedback so good.
You Get Examples From Your Own Essay
It can be hard to know how to improve if you don’t have specific examples. Good feedback focuses on what you wrote personally. It’s just like what I said in the last section about the vague tips that may or may not apply to you!
It is all well and good if I tell you that you need to do more close analysis in your work. That might help you some of the time. However, what if you feel like you are doing that already? How am I supposed to make you see what I mean? Well, I pick out examples from your work, of course!
It’s much better for me to highlight parts of your essay and say “good close analysis here” or “this needs some more close analysis”. Then, we’re both on the same page. You know what I mean and you have evidence from your work to better understand it.
In fact, you can even use my examples as extra practice! If I highlight part of your essay and give you tips on how to improve, you could rewrite the section that I pointed out with my tips in mind. That will give you some extra practice on how to write a great essay without having to rewrite the whole thing. Stick to a paragraph or two. That’s how you’ll get the best results!
No two people write essays the same way. Sure, you might have a similar style to your friend. However, there are thousands of words that you can use. There is an infinite combination of words you can use to express your ideas. That’s why it’s good to get examples from your own work. They make the most sense and show you how to do better next time.
How Shani’s Tutoring Can Help You
When you’re at school, you can always give your essay to your teacher for marking. They will try their best to give it back to you as soon as they can, but teachers don’t have a lot of time! They probably won’t be able to give you very detailed feedback on your essay, either.
Well, I can give you great feedback any time of the year. I’m here for you during the holidays and during your study leave. I strive to give you great essay feedback within three days! Plus, I don’t just give you a grade. I break down your mark into small chunks so that you know what you need to work on.
I have spent over 6 years as a tutor for GCSE and A-levels. In that time, I have gained an excellent understanding of all of the exam boards and their mark schemes. When you get your essay marked by me, you can benefit from all this experience and my passion to help you do well.
I have created my own Shani’s Tutoring exclusive mark scheme. It uses all of the assessment objectives of all of the exam boards, rewording them so that they make sense to you. I mark out of 300 to make sure that I can go into detail with how you can improve.
Then, there is some extra space for me to give you more comments:
- Spellings to Learn
- Vobab Suggestions
- What Went Well
- Even Better If
- Next Steps
With such detailed essay feedback, there’s no way you won’t know how you can do better next time! Check out the guide for more info!
Good luck with your essays!