We all know that feeling – the dreadful nerves of entering the examination room…the fear as your trembling fingers open the paper…the desperate scanning of the questions to see whether they fit in with what you’ve prepared…the mad scramble to work out how to structure an essay to fit the question. But somewhere, in every exam room, is one student who calmly looks at the question and confidently begins to write – as if they had a custom essay already prepared no matter what the requirements. That student knows the secret of custom essays…

Although it is true that every exam question is different, there are several specific formats that come up time and again in exam essays. A close knowledge and understanding of these different types of question, and practice of the structure and contents required for each one, will provide you with a strong, custom essay prepared for almost every potential exam essay. All you have to do is fill in the necessary information to your pre-prepared, custom essay structure.

In this series of blogs we will look at the structure and custom style of the most common exam essays: 'compare and contrast’, ‘to what extent’, ‘for and against’, ‘how does the writer’ and ‘close reference’. Each type of essay question can be answered with a custom structure and format that can be easily adapted and tweaked to fit the particulars of the question.

A compare and contrast custom essay format

This essay style is commonly used in examinations, as it gives the writer the opportunity to show a very great deal of knowledge of two different texts, pieces, events etc. The trap commonly fallen into with this type of essay is that students often panic and simply write an enormous paragraph on one item followed by the second half of the essay on the other, without a great deal of detailed referral between the two.

The most sophisticated custom essay format for a compare and contrast question takes one specific aspect of style, content or structure and discusses in detail how the two texts compare in that single area. The essay then proceeds to compare the two texts again in a different way, and continues until all points for comparison have been exhausted. One paragraph is used to deal with each new aspect for consideration, and each paragraph starts with a signpost sentence clearly stating what is being compared. A very strong structural plan often includes clustering those aspects of comparison which show similarities early on in the essay followed by contrasts in the later half. An examination essay may, for example, require the student to compare and contrast two poems. Many students will panic and write a long two-part essay dealing first with one poem and then the other with little real comparison and contrast.

But a student prepared with a custom made ‘compare and contrast’ essay structure might write something along these lines:

  • Introduction. Give a broad sense of the most major points of comparison and contrast between the poems and explain that these are created and underwritten by a close examination of specific literary aspects of each, which you will examine in turn. Say that in many ways the two poems are very similar…
  • Paragraph 1. Language. Compare the language of the two poems and conclude that both use similar vocabulary, syntax or linguistic devices such as metaphors, similes and imagery.
  • Paragraph 2. Structure. Compare the structure of both poems and show how stanza formation, sentence length and grammatical structure are markedly alike in both.
  • Linking sentence. Recap the close comparisons you have noted and go on to say that in spite of these similarities there are also other areas where the two poems are strikingly different.
  • Paragraph 3. Tone. Contrast the different tone of the two poems and explore ways in which this impacts on the reader’s experience of them.
  • Paragraph 4. Rhythm and rhyme. Contrast the different rhythmic styles and metres used by the two poets and show how these very different rhyme schemes create a strong contrast between the two poems.
  • Conclusion. Summarise the similarities and differences between the poems and come to a clear conclusion about how far they may be considered alike or contrasting overall.

So a pre-prepared ‘custom essay’ format arms you with a very clear idea of the structure of your essay and knowledge of the major areas you know you will cover, each in a separate paragraph. You also know you will format the essay to begin with comparisons and follow with contrasts, start with a clear introduction and end with a summarising conclusion.

Armed with your ‘custom essay’ format, you will be ready to face any ‘compare and contrast’ style examination essay with confidence.

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