In recent posts I have mentioned when writing something for the exam or coursework, that planning is vital, but how do you go about this?

I have also suggested writing an introduction, followed by a 3 point midsection and then adding a conclusion and in the right context, that would be one way to write an essay, but some students I have been speaking to recently have found that either to be too structured or have said that it does not allow them the chance to be creative enough to write freely and fluently.

So, they asked me to come up with something else.

Then, when teaching one particular student, we came up with something easier for him to remember, especially as the exams are coming up and it came out as a picture, which is now placed below for you.

4 point plan

In essence, it is a diagram that should help you to structure your writing.

Imagine you had to write a description of a time when you had to make a difficult decision. If you write a bullet pointed plan, or numbered, with 1, 2, 3 etc down the page then things can be written down in the wrong order. If you try however, to make a diagram of it, then you use such as this diagram to jot down some ideas.

So, in the centre circle, you add the title task, say for example, the words “DIFFICULT DECISION” and then you think of a time when you have had a difficult decision to make. Then, using one strand at a time, you add single words into each box, but be careful. Be logical. Be prepared to make it up in the exam as well. The more unique the better in exam answers.

Start with the decision, so [for example] the top right strand might use words like [and using the centre circle as well] DECISION – OPERATION – TRUST – FEARS. The second thread might read DECISION – FAMILY – CONCERNS – FEARS and so on, around the diagram. When all four are completed, you then need to think which strand naturally comes first and label them as 1, 2, 3, 4. [The same would be true is writing about a poem in an exam or for coursework].

This entire task should be able to be completed within 10 minutes! It is that simple for a reason, to make you think in terms of one word answers that you will then develop in your writing.

Go on, have a go now. Using the same title as here, use this diagram planner to make your plan in order to write one. Then, as exam practice [this is posted just before the exam in 2015] actually write a 600 word answer.

Happy writing!