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How to Write an ‘Area of Study’ Essay for the HSC

Your exposition should follow the normal essay format:

  • Thesis – general statement, answer question, outline
  • Arguments – point, example, evidence, link
  • Reinforcement – answer question, outline

1. Thesis

In your first paragraph you must do the following:

  • Show your point of view on the topic by answering the question (the stronger and more complex the thesis, the better the essay)
  • Preview or outline, without examples, the arguments that you will use to prove your point in the next section
  • Start with a general statement about the topic / text

2. Arguments

In the next set of paragraphs make sure:

  • A new paragraph is used for each new argument (note: you can use more than one paragraph per argument as long as they are connected by a linking sentence)
  • Each new paragraph should begin with a topic sentence that introduces a new argument
  • You produce evidence in the form of quotes and textual detail to support your argument
  • You link that evidence to the point you are making and the question

Make your argument, prove it (quote / techniques) and link it to the question. Show how your proof answers your thesis.

3. Reinforcement of Thesis

In this one paragraph, conclude your exposition:

  • Restate your thesis (point of view)
  • Summarise by briefly stating your main reasons for this point of view (i.e. state your arguments)

Remember, the whole idea of writing an ‘Area of Study’ essay is to convince the reader that you are right. You must include relevant and strong evidence that supports your thesis and answers the question.

Therefore, you will have to argue your point of view based on discovery showing that you have thoroughly examined your core text and that you can show the interrelationship between this text and other related texts studied.

You need to express what you have learned about discovery, how this is presented in similar or different ways in the related texts and HOW and WHY these similarities and differences in presentation of discoveries might exist. This is where the author’s purpose, audience, cultural background or perceptions will come in.

It is essential to remember that it is perfectly acceptable to disagree with the essay question as long as you are able to sustain your thesis and arguments in a logical and cohesive manner.

Juggling a discussion of two or more texts in a forty minute essay may seem challenging to some students, yet if you go by this simple structure, your essay will flow well with a good balance of core and related texts. To structure your arguments into paragraphs, the following steps may be of assistance:

First Paragraph

  1. Topic sentence – make your point / outline your argument
  2. Give an example from your core text to justify your point
  3. Link this back to the question by explaining what this teaches you about discovery
  4. Give a general statement about how this same perspective or argument is illustrated in other texts

Second Paragraph

  1. Topic sentence – demonstrate how your argument is also valid in your related text
  2. Give / outline examples from your related text that illustrate the same point
  3. Explain how this is similar (or different) to your core text and WHY this might be so
  4. Again, link this back to the question

Always go back to question and your initial thesis and make sure you have answered the question!!

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