The final blog in our Custom Essays series looks at one of the most common essay questions students will face in exams across many different subjects. A close reference question asks you to look carefully at a given text or passage and to use specific aspects of the writing as the basis for your answer. Some close reference questions are specifically focussed on the piece itself, whilst others use it as a springboard to discuss a wider issue with aspects of the text used to illustrate your argument.

Whatever the specific question, close reference essays can be daunting under time pressure, as it is easy to panic in an exam situation when faced with a large piece of writing. Many students will fail to provide a clear structure to their answer, thus losing valuable points for essay format. Luckily, we’ve created a custom essay format specifically tailored to suit this kind of question, which you can adapt to fit any close reference essay. Use this clear structure for your answer and you will be well on your way towards top marks!

Close Reference

Many students make the mistake of thinking that ‘close reference’ means having to comment on every single part of a text, looking at each sentence and considering every word. They will often work their way through an entire text, writing a commentary that essentially just paraphrases the piece of writing, rather than analysing and examining the literary techniques and methods behind it.

The key to a fantastic close reference essay is to pick out the most important aspects of the text and present these as clear, separate ideas, using examples from the text to prove your point. It is essential to examine all aspects of the text, not just content.

What Your Custom Essay Should Include

  • Introduction. Here you should outline each of the key areas you have identified within the text and explain that these combine to create the overall effect achieved by the writer. In the introduction you should explain what this overall effect is, so that the following paragraphs can all support this one main idea by showing how different aspects of the passage feed into it.
  • Paragraph 1. Language. Regardless of the subject or type of writing, language will almost always be an important part of any close reference answer. Reflect on the general type of language used (is it formal or informal, colloquial, in dialect, complex or simple?). Then look at whether the language is consistent throughout the text or whether it differs in various sections – if so, explain why. Use specific quotes and pick out words from the text to support your observations. Finally, remember to write about the effect this language has on the reader – why is it chosen, what does it do, how does it contribute to the overall impact of the piece?
  • Paragraph 2. Tone. Again, this will be significant in any piece of writing regardless of genre or period. The tone means the overall ‘feeling’ of a piece – and it often describes the emotion or agenda of the writer. Some examples of tone are aggressive, soothing, questioning, disturbing, accusing, humorous and forceful. Explain how the tone of the article is communicated, using quotes to support your theories.
  • Paragraph 3. Structure. The structure of a piece of writing is one of the most commonly forgotten aspects in close reference essays, but it is extremely important. Comment on the ordering of information, the length and structure of paragraphs and the syntax of individual sentences. Are there long and complex sentences or short snappy ones? What is the effect of this?
  • Paragraph 4. Linguistic devices. These will vary from text to text, but you will always be able to find some examples and it is important to include reference to them in your essay. They include metaphors, similes, imagery, rhyme, repetition, onomatopoeia, alliteration, personification, hyperbole and any other linguistic techniques the author uses. In each case, identify the technique, give an example and explain how it contributes to the overall effect of the text.
  • Paragraph 5. Wider context. This may not be relevant in every essay, but if you have been asked to provide close reference to the text in order to examine a wider issue, it is important to remember to devote this paragraph to explaining how the different aspects you have identified within the text relate to and prove your wider theory or the wider issue at hand. You may also wish to weave in these observations throughout the essay at the end of each individual paragraph.
  • Conclusion. Your conclusion should remind the examiner of all the different areas you have considered, and it may also state which of these is the most important or effective in creating the overall impact of the text. Finally remind the reader that it is a combination of these different effects that results in the general purpose and ideas you have drawn from the text.

We hope you will find these custom essay formats extremely helpful when tackling those essay exams this summer. Remember always to create a clear structure, separated into a different paragraph for each new idea, and always to include an introduction and conclusion.

Good luck!