Essay Writing Skills Higher Modern Studies Lesson Focus

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Essay Writing Skills

  • Higher Modern Studies

Lesson Focus

  • Understanding the expectations of the exam paper.
  • Explaining the structure of 20 mark essays and 12 mark essays
  • Applying the structure of writing 20 and 12 mark essays

Exam Questions

  • In the Higher Modern Studies exam you will have to:
    • Write one 20 Mark essay (this can appear in any of the three sections of the paper)
    • Write two 12 mark ‘mini’ essays (again, these can appear anywhere in the paper)
    • Answer two 8 mark source handling questions (these can appear in any section). These questions require NO background knowledge and the answer is taken straight from the sources


  • Total time = 2 hours and 15 minutes
  • Divide your time like this:
    • 20 mark essay: 40 Minutes
    • 12 mark essay: 25 Minutes EACH
    • 8 mark source question: 22 Minutes each (including reading time)

20 mark essays

  • The 20 marks allocated for an essay are broken down into four areas.
  • Structured argument(2) – Having and introduction, main body, conclusion and a coherent line of argument.
  • Knowledge and Understanding (8) – Stating a point, explaining it and backing it up with exemplification
  • Analysis (6) – including balance in your essay, not presenting a one sided view point and backing up your balance with exemplification.
  • Evaluation (4) – an extended and balanced conclusion, which justifies and addresses the question

20 mark essays

  • Discuss
  • Communicate ideas and information on the issue in the “statement.”
  • Analyse and evaluate different viewpoints on the statement.
  • To what extent
  • Analyse the issue in the question and come to a conclusion(s) which involve an evaluative judgement (e.g. success or failure)
  • Slightly narrower than Discuss Q
  • Most citizens participate effectively in the political process. Discuss.
  • The political system provides an effective check on the government. Discuss with reference to a world power you have studied.
  • Health and welfare provision should be the responsibility of the government. Discuss.
  • To what extent does parliament have influence over the government?
  • To what extent does a world power you have studied have influence in international relations?
  • To what extent are lifestyle choices the most important factor effecting health?

Success Criteria

  • Knowledge and Understanding (up to 8 marks)
  • Relevant key aspects with detailed and accurate description
  • Explanation
  • Extended, relevant and up to date exemplification
  • Structure (up to 2 marks)
  • The essay has a clear introduction; follows a pattern and overall line of argument is clear and consistent throughout.

Analysis (up to 6marks)

  • Analysis (up to 6marks)
  • Comments that identify relationships or implications
  • Explore different points of view
  • Establish consequences or implications
  • Extended justified or exemplified relevant and accurate analytical comments
  • Comments of an insightful nature
  • Should link closely to the Q
  • Evaluative conclusions (up to 4 marks)
  • Make a judgement(s) or reach a conclusion(s)
  • Extended and balanced insightful conclusion that directly addresses key issues of the Q
  • Considers a range of viewpoints

Planning the Essay

  • Prepare your question thoroughly:
  • STEP 1 – Unlock the question – what is actually been asked?
  • STEP 2 – Make a decision – what side of the issue are you arguing?
  • STEP 3 – Decide balance – what is the other side of the issue?
  • In any essay you are having a discussion – you must show both sides of the story!!

Essay Structure

  • Introduction
  • Highlight your overall decision and layout your answer
  • Middle Section (main body)
  • 4/5 paragraphs
  • Discuss factors of the issue in depth
  • Show BALANCE – discuss opposing factors or other elements
  • Conclusion
  • Sum up both side of the argument and come to a conclusion
  • ** You must have a clear line of argument throughout your essay - 2 marks available!**


  • The introduction should include these important features:
  • Context: Establishing the issue (essay title) in its wider context (a little background)
  • Present a line of argument (refer to the question and indicate how you intend to address it)
  • Indicate relevant factors to be discussed (mention all the factors you will include in your essay in your introduction to help you discuss the issue)


  • Background: The Government has a responsibility to provide health, education, housing, employment and income support to UK citizens.
  • Line of argument: In recent years the way in which the Government has provided such support has been lax/getting worse.
    • Factors: Changes in benefits (Universal Credit); Tutitions fees (England vs Scotland); NHS budgets etc

Main Body

  • Knowledge
  • Analyse KAKAE
  • Knowledge
  • Analyse
  • Evaluation
  • For each point of knowledge try to have a real life example. You should then analyse this as being positive/negative/impactful etc.


  • Your overall conclusion should have four parts:
  • 1. Open your conclusion with a brief summary of your essay
  • 2. Present one side of the argument
  • Present another side of the argument
  • State your final conclusion


  • In conclusion there is evidence to highlight that …
  • On one hand.......(refer to the first side of the argument)
  • On the other hand.... (refer to the other side of the arguement)
  • Overall, we can conclude that...(how important is this issue? What progress has or has not been made in recent years? Inter-connecting factors? If it is a “to what extent” question you must make the EXTENT clear.)


  • You must ensure you justify your arguments throughout your essay as this will ensure you gain your 2 marks for structure.
  • These marks are awarded OVERALL, not per paragraph.
  • If there is no evidence throughout, you will be awarded 0 marks!!

Phrases for balance:

  • • However….
  • • On the other hand…
  • • but it can be argued that…
  • • Other experts suggest that..
  • In contrast…
  • Another perspective / viewpoint is …..
  • An alternative to this……
  • To counterbalance this….

12 mark essays

  • Both 12 mark essays can come up in ANY SECTION.
  • You will be given a choice of two analysis questions in the section in which it appears
  • You will also be given a choice of two evaluate questions in the section in which it appears.
  • Only answer ONE evaluate and ONE analysis questions

12 mark essays

  • Evaluate
  • Asking you to make a judgement about how good or bad something is.
  • E.g. Evaluate the effectiveness of an electoral system in providing fair representation
  • Analyse
  • Asking you to explain how/reasons why something happens.
  • E.g. Analyse the different lifestyle choices which result in poor health.

Analyse Questions

  • Pupils use their KU to answer the question – up to 8 marks
  • The final 4 marks come from analysis.
  • Marks for analysis could be achieved by looking at:
  • the consequences of something
  • links between things
  • similarities/contradictions between aspects of an issue
  • compare opposing/alternative viewpoints.
  • make a judgement about viewpoints
  • make recommendations/suggest alternatives /improvements
  • Q. Analyse the different lifestyle choices which result in poor health.
  • You would be required to highlight, through your knowledge, the ways in which some lifestyle factors result in poor health THEN analyse these

Starts to analytical sentences:

  • This evidence suggests / demonstrates / justifies / supports…..
  • Therefore it can be concluded/deduced that….
  • This clearly shows/illustrates …
  • This does not support the idea that……
  • This argument clearly focusses on …….
  • There is clearly a difference between……
  • It reasonable to conclude that…..
  • The implication / impact of this is that ……….
  • In essence this viewpoint ………….
  • This demonstrates the link between……….
  • This is significant / important / convincing because……..

Evaluate Questions

  • Pupils use their KU to answer the question - up to 8 marks.
  • The final 4 marks come from evaluative comments.
  • Evaluative comments are where candidates draw relevant conclusions and/or make relevant judgements about an issue e.g. success or failure / highly effective or only slightly effective.
  • Q: Evaluate the effectiveness of an electoral system in providing fair representation.
  • You would be required to highlight how effective the electoral system is in terms of fairness of representation. What is good / bad about the system?
  • This is a narrower Q than the 12 mark Analyse Q

Possible Evaluative terms

  • Highly
  • Mostly
  • Slightly
  • Only
  • Strong
  • Weak
  • Majority
  • Few
  • Influential
  • Probable
  • successful
  • Increasingly
  • Decreased
  • Valuable
  • Significant
  • Important
  • Critical
  • Vital
  • Very
  • Relevant
  • Effective
  • Can be used in conjunction e.g. Highly relevant
  • Maintained
  • Constant
  • Consistent
  • Considerable
  • Inflated
  • Limited
  • Difficult
  • Likely
  • Clearly
  • Definitely
  • Possible
  • Widely praised

Success Criteria

  • Knowledge and Understanding = 8 Marks
  • At least two relevant points should be made and fully explained.
  • Candidates must include extended, accurate and up to date exemplification.
  • Analysis/Evaluation = 4 Marks
  • You should make extended, accurate and justified analytical or evaluative comment which relates back to the question for each KU point made.


  • “Evaluate the effectiveness of St Joseph’s Academy at meeting the needs of all learners.”
  • STEP 1: Unlock the question.
  • Ways in which the school meets peoples needs
  • How successful/effective they are in doing so

Essay Structure

  • Introduction
  • Answer in 1 or 2 sentences – no marks!
  • Middle Section (main body)
  • Follow a KAKA/KEKE format for each paragraph depending on essay title!
  • 3 paragraphs will suffice.
  • Conclusion
  • Concluding comment – short and sweet, one paragraph sum up!


  • On your own, write one quick sentence which answers the question and refers to the points you will refer to.

Main Body

  • Each paragraph should include:
  • Knowledge -A sentence introducing your point to the Q and its relevance – include real life examples where possible.
  • Analyse/Evaluate – same as a 20 mark essay! Be critical!!
  • Knowledge – back yourself up or highlight inconsistences with further knowledge and examples
  • Analyse/Evaluate – as above!!
  • You will need DETAILED ANALYSIS in order to gain full marks.
  • In an Evaluate question there is more emphasis place upon the conclusion.

One way StJA helps meet the needs of all learners is through supported study.

  • One way StJA helps meet the needs of all learners is through supported study.
  • Most individuals feel the need for supported study and find it very beneficial as a form of furthering their learning. Most subjects provide this because of the educational benefits. (1 mark K) As a result of this, pupils feel more confident in their ability to perform well in the final exam because they have been well prepared by their teachers. They are more likely to achieve a higher grade than if they did not attend. (1 mark Evaluation)
  • 70% of S5 pupils who were surveyed said they found supported study was a valuable part of their revision. (1 mark K)
  • Evidence shows that there is a strong link attending supported study and passing exams. Around 75% of pupils who attend supported study pass the final exam in that subject. (1 mark E)


  • To conclude......
  • refer to good and bad aspects of meeting learning needs and what is the main issue or achievement

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