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How to write an essay plan

If you find it difficult to get started on your essay, try this planning method.

Here’s an example essay question:

How has the position of women changed in British society between 1900 and 1960?

1 Make it visual

Work with coloured pens and a large sheet of paper. Draw a mind map with the essay question in the middle and your ideas for answering the question branching out from the centre. Start with what you already know about the subject. Then do your research using books and journal articles. Add ideas from the materials to your mind map.

2 Group ideas together

On a new sheet of paper, group the ideas into themes that will help you answer the question. You might have thoughts about changes in women’s education, and their political and economic role; these will form the sections of your essay. Give each section a colour.

3 Turn ideas into points

Image: 123RF

Now look at your ideas for each section. Each one can become a point. You might have written ‘Women get vote in 1918’. See if you can turn that idea into a topic sentence—the first sentence of a paragraph.

In 1918 women in Britain achieved the right to vote, but it was another decade before they secured the same voting rights as men.


Write the topic sentences on a fresh piece of paper, ordering them in the most logical way. You may not need all the points, so prioritise the most relevant ones. Repeat this task for all the sections, then decide the order of the sections.

Planning like this will help you to get going with your assignment.

Anna Barker
2 December 2021

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