English & EAL

“The ‘best’ essay style for my Context piece”

Lisa Tran

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With less than a month away, many of you may still be debating which Context style of writing you should use in the English exam. As you know, there are three essay styles you can choose from: expository, creative or persuasive pieces. Below is a compiled a list of advantages and disadvantages for each of the three pieces. While the list is non-exhaustive, be aware that just because some people think a particular style is ‘the best’, this doesn’t mean that it is going to be the most suitable for you. Your decision should involve identifying which style is most familiar/comfortable for you, which enables you to distinguish yourself from other students, and gives you the ability to discuss any kind of prompt thrown at you etc.


Advantages: Text Response essays are written in expository form so you should be very familiar with its structure and format. You have been writing expository essays since the beginning of high school, meaning that you have had more practice in this style, and therefore don’t need to spend the extra time learning and developing as with the other two styles. Furthermore, incorporating examples into your discussion is relatively straightforward. In creative and persuasive, how you choose to use examples may require extra attention as they are less ‘structured’.

Disadvantages: The majority of students write expository pieces in the Context section. If you want to write a unique piece that will stand out, you must work hard at it. You will need to think of interesting approaches to the topic as well as unique examples to support your contention.


Advantages: There are different forms of creative pieces – diary, chapter of a novel, blog post, article etc. You can also choose how you want to represent your studied text example – recreation of an event, an additional chapter, a different ending etc. Thus the creativity options are endless, enabling you to ensure that your piece will be different to others. This style also encourages you to insert your own personal writing style – from your preferred writing tones to syntax, grammar, prose etc. Being able to write without strict boundaries comes easily for some students.

Disadvantages: You need to ensure that your contention is clear to the examiner. In expository pieces, it is relatively easy to deliver your ideas by using topic sentences. However, this may be harder to implement in creative pieces, meaning that the characters, action, setting, vocabulary you use is vital in conveying your ideas. If the examiner can’t see what you’re getting at, then this can be detrimental to your score. Furthermore, many students feel that with creative pieces they can ‘pre-write’ a piece that they can alter when they’re in the exam in order to fit the prompt. This can be risky if your piece isn’t able to altered to suit the prompt at all, and you may be thrown off by having to write a new one on the spot. Of course, some people don’t believe this to be a disadvantage but quite the opposite, since they’ll be ‘prepared’ prior to the exam. Remember that this is a risk taken at your own discretion.


Advantages: Since persuasive pieces require use of language techniques, this means you can use your skills from Language Analysis in Context pieces. You have the option of a few different formats: editorial, article, letter to the editor, speech etc. After some practice, you will know which tones, headlines and bylines you prefer.

Disadvantages: In addition to clearly demonstrating your perspective on the prompt, you will need to ensure that you use language techniques. Without language techniques your piece won’t be particularly persuasive, and therefore, much of your attention will need be placed on what and how many language techniques you will include.

If you’re still unsure which essay style suits you best, go ahead and try writing essays for each of the three. You should be able to easily kick out one of the three options, leaving two left. While you may ultimately decide on one essay style that you wish to the use in the exam, having the option of two styles isn’t such a bad idea since it will give you more room to tackle different/difficult prompts!

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