How to write the main body of your essay

Now that you have finished your introduction and the foundation is laid for the rest of your essay, it is time to get to the part of coursework which is usually seen as the most daunting: that of actually putting together all of your research and understanding into a balanced, well written, perfectly organised, well-argued and solidly supported piece of original text. Trust us, we understand just how much of a challenge this appears to all students. With your effort and the skills you will learn in the following section, this will become a less daunting challenge and will, most likely, become something that you look forward to in the future. If you follow our suggestions, every essay from here on, through university and beyond, will be a less formidable task.

Building the Main Body of Your House

The ‘Main Body’ of your essay is the main structure of your house. It is where you will place and display all of your contents and it is the place where the inhabitant – your reader – is going to spend most of her time. This is where the examiner is going to ‘live’ for a sustained period of time. They want to sit in the chairs, lie in the beds, read the books on the bookshelf, and watch TV. The reader is going to spend a great deal of time evaluating what you write and how you write it. They are going to award marks (or not) depending upon how readily understandable your work is, and how closely you fulfil the criteria outlined in the mark scheme. In a sense, your examiner is the inhabitant of your house, but she is also a building regulations inspector – she will determine whether your construction work meets industry standards. Above all, the examiner wants to feel comfortable in the house that you have built for them – make sure it is.

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The Purpose of the Main Body


  • To demonstrate that you understand the complexities of the topic being discussed.
  • To demonstrate that you have adhered to the mark schemes and understood the exam board guidelines.
  • To prove that you can organise, clearly and effectively, all of your research around the question that is being asked.
  • To expand upon any key terms encoded in the question/title.
  • To demonstrate a high level of relevant knowledge related to the topic.
  • To compare and contrast the key arguments that orbit the topic/s of the title.
  • To find continuities and changes within the topic or time period and give reasons for these.
  • To highlight any similarities and differences within the topic or time period and give reasons for these.
  • To prove that you understand and, perhaps more importantly, can deploy relevant historiography.
  • To demonstrate a high level of synoptic understanding across the topic and time period.
  • To provide high level evaluation of the evidence, sources, and historiography.
  • To make consistent, well supported, judgements related to the question under discussion.
  • To show your character through the originality and organisation of the content.
  • To demonstrate a sophisticated level of language deployment.
  • To demonstrate a high level of research and use of evidence.

Don’t worry if you don’t quite understand all of the above, as we go through this unit together, it will become clear what you need to do and how you can do it.

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