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Paragraphs help to organise your writing. Each topic or point goes into a different paragraph. They make your writing much easier for the examiner to read and they also help you to keep your thoughts in order and not ramble on. They are essential in Q5 in both papers, but you should use them in the reading questions also to make your answers clear.











Topic sentences

A topic sentence gives you the main idea in a paragraph. It's often the first sentence and sums up the subject of your paragraph.

Supporting sentences

The other sentences are called supporting sentences and give more information about the idea in your topic sentence.

Developing a paragraph

There are different ways to develop your paragraphs depending on the question that you're answering. Some of the most common ways (you might remember them from school) are:

PEE - Point / Evidence / Explain

PEA - Point / Evidence / Analysis

PEEL - Point / Evidence / Explanation / Link

Some are designed for specific reading questions:

PETER = Point / Evidence / Technique / Explain / Reader (P1Q4)

PETAL = Point / Evidence / Technique / Analysis / Link (P1Q4)

VEMEC = Viewpoint / Evidence / Method / Explain / Compare (P2Q4)


Providing detail in your explanations and analysis is a vital skill in this exam. Thinking about your paragraphs can help you with this. If you build a whole paragraph on one point you are more likely to include the detail you need. Look at these two examples:

The writer uses a range of adjectives to describe the rat. 'Mean red eyes' shows that the rat looks scary and cruel. 'Wet and greasy' shows that the rat's fur is disgusting and 'sluggish' shows that it's moving slowly across the ground.

This paragraph switches between three different quotes but doesn't link them together at all. There is a short comment about each quote with no detail.

The writer uses the adjectives 'mean' and 'red' to describe the rat's eyes. This portrays the rat as being cruel and shows that it might do harm to someone. 'Red' has connotations of danger, evil and blood. The rat would look like something from a nightmare or horror film with its eyes glowing in the dark. It could also symbolise that the rat is the enemy in the story.

This paragraph deals with one quote and uses supporting sentences to build up the detail needed for a Level 3 mark.

Further help:


Writing paragraphs

Using paragraphs

BBC Skillswise

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