Part 8: Composing English Responses in Year 10

In this article, we will go through the differences between Year 9 and 10 English and how to improve these skills to bring your writing to the next level.

Unsure about the differences between composing English responses in Year 10 and Year 9? Don’t fear. This article will tell you everything you need to know to write amazing English responses in Year 10.


How does composing English responses in Year 10 differ from Year 9?

Year 10 is where you must gain confidence and mastery of structuring responses and polishing your expression.

Not only do your analysis, ideas, and arguments need to become more sophisticated and complex in Year 10, but this is the year where you must refine and improve your English writing skills in preparation for Years 11 and 12.


Adding complexity and sophistication

As you move into Year 10,  your writing needs to become more complex and sophisticated.

However, this doesn’t mean that you need to use sophisticated words and long sentences. It’s actually quite the opposite! Writing concisely and eruditely is a difficult skill to master and it takes time.

As Mark Twain said, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead!”

You need to compose complex and concise essays and creatives that do the work for the reader. A good piece of writing conveys the ideas for a reader in such a way that they don’t have to think about anything but your ideas.

Unnecessary words, poor grammar, illogical order of ideas, weak structure, and spelling errors all distract readers from your ideas and make it difficult for them to focus on your ideas.


So what what exactly does ‘complex arguments’ mean? 

A complex argument is one that is well thought out and has depth.

Rather than just outline an idea and presenting a piece of evidence, a complex argument weaves together different supporting points and useful pieces of evidences to support a thesis.

Let’s take a look at the difference between a simple and a complex argument.





As you can see here, simple arguments or ideas demonstrate a surface level understanding of your text or topic.

They don’t have much depth and you can’t explore many supporting ideas.

Also, when you have a simple argument as your thesis, you will find that your paragraphs begin to sound very similar to each other. This is because your thesis doesn’t isn’t strong enough to support three independent and complex ideas. And so you will end up repeating some things.


On the other hand, complex arguments are arguments that are built upon a series of smaller relevant ideas.

An effective complex and sophisticated argument will explain why you believe something to be the case and how your supporting ideas and examples support this position.

A complex argument walks your reader through your reasoning.

When you are composing English responses in Year 10, it is crucial that you have complex arguments. This shows that you have a deep understanding of your text and that you have carefully thought about it.


Personal perspectives and interpretations

In Year 9 English, you have focused on improving your essay writing skills to bring your English responses to the next level.

However, now that you are more comfortable at writing strong responses, it is time that you write about strong ideas.

To bring your arguments and ideas to the next level, you need to start thinking outside of the text.

This means that you need to describe the connection between your world, the composer’s world and explain how it relates to your text. 


As we’ve discussed in previous parts of this Guide, there are some steps that you can take to do this:

  1. When you are reading or watching your text, write down your thoughts and feelings about what is happening.
  2. Did you like or dislike the text? Why?
  3. Research into the composer’s context. This means that you should look into their personal life, and what is happening in their world.
  4. Think about what the text is saying about our world.

When you’re composing your responses, you want to start incorporating these ideas into your explanations and discussions of texts.

When you add these elements in your writing, you show your markers that you evaluated the significance of the text.

You don’t need to write a whole paragraph about your interpretations and perspectives. But you do need to link your analysis to some of these concepts.

This simple step will bring your essays from an average to an A.

Why? Well, it not only demonstrates your deep understanding of a text but it showcases your ability to make connections between literature and the real world.



Sustained arguments

Central to a Band 6 result is a sustained argument!

A sustained argument is one where a consistent thesis is carried throughout your whole response.

This means that your writing can’t stray from the main argument and that all your body paragraphs must relate to the main thesis.


You will have practised this skill in Year 9. However, now it is crucial that you sustain your argument when you are composing English responses in Year 10 to get good marks.


Why do we need to sustain our argument?

When you don’t sustain your argument, your writing will look sloppy and weak. Readers will be unsure of your main argument, get confused by your argument, and, thus, your writing will lose its credibility.


English responses in Year 10 need to be strong, cohesive, and seem reliable and accurate. To do this, you need to sustain your argument.

You want to people to be able to trust your writing and believe in what you say.


Learn to compose exemplar English responses



So, how do we do this? 

There are two “types of arguments” that you need to sustain in your writing:

  • Your thesis throughout your whole essay
  • Your supporting idea throughout your body paragraph.


It is important that you do both of these to compose a strong English response.

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So, let’s see how we can sustain a thesis:

  • Ensure that your body arguments directly support the thesis.

It is important that your arguments derive from your thesis. Too often, students end up writing body paragraphs that don’t relate to their thesis because they memorised an essay and don’t know how to adapt it to their new thesis.

It is important that you don’t do this, because your essay will lose its structure and cohesion.


  • Signpost your thesis throughout your whole essay.

Signposting is when you use keywords from your question or thesis throughout your response. This explicitly shows your reader that you are sustaining your argument and answering the question.


Now, to sustain your idea in your body paragraphs, you need to:

  • Find relevant examples / evidence that support your topic sentences.

It is important that you don’t simply use the first set of textual evidence you see, because it might not relate to your idea. Instead, you need to be selective and only use strong examples that fully support your argument.


  • Don’t contradict yourself.

Know your arguments very well. Never bring up a contradictory point unless you intend to rebut it.

Sometimes, rebutting opposing arguments can strengthen your own argument.

However, when students are composing English responses in Year 10, they accidentally raise a contradictory point. Don’t do this because it will weaken the persuasiveness and reliability of your argument.


  • Signpost your topic sentence in the paragraph.

As explained above, you should always signpost in your English responses. Doing this with topic sentences will make your whole paragraph seem cohesive and strong.


What writing skills do I need to develop?

Making the jump from Year 9 to 10 is not as difficult as you think. In Year 9, you were taught some necessary writing skills for Stage 5.

Now, all you need to do is to continue practising and improving these skills when you are composing English responses in Year 10.


Let’s go over them again:



Clarity refers to the ability to convey a message clearly; not in a confusing way.


Although you may have learned about the importance of clarity in Year 9, many Year 10 students still struggle to write clearly in their writing.

In Year 10, you begin to deal with more complex and sophisticated ideas, so it is VERY IMPORTANT that you write clearly.

If you don’t write clearly, your markers will struggle to understand these complex concepts.


Here are some steps that will help you improve clarity when you are composing English responses in Year 10:


  • Don’t assume that your readers are mind-readers

Students have a habit of assuming that their readers know exactly what they mean. However, this is a bad trap to fall in!

Always explain everything. Don’t leave any missing gaps of information because it can confuse readers.


For example, “Beckett changes Pozzo’s role in the play to symbolise how men can easily lose their power.

What was Pozzo’s intitial role? What did he change to? 

When did this change occur?

How does it symbolise men losing power?

You see, this student assumed that the audience knew the event that they were referring to. However, they just made their writing unclear and confusing.


To fix this, you have to properly explain everything. Even if you have to write another sentence.

For example, “Beckett changes Pozzo’s role from being Lucky’s master in Act 1, to a blind and pathetic man in the Act 2. This symbolises how men can easily lose their power.

Do you notice the difference?


  • Don’t use fancy words that you don’t fully understand

All students want their English responses to be sophisticated and complex.

However, using fancy words will NOT help you achieve this. In fact, they do the opposite.

Too often, students misuse the word because they don’t fully understand what it means and how to use it.


So, when you are composing English responses in year 10, just use SIMPLE WORDS that clearly conveys your meaning.

And focus on developing sophisticated and complex IDEAS instead.


  • Always write in active voice

Students think that writing in a passive voice makes English responses sound more formal and sophisticated.

But this is a mistake!


In reality, passive voice makes your writing sound ambiguous and confusing.

Here is an example, “The show was really enjoyed by me.” vs “I really enjoyed the show.

You see, active voice directly engages readers and gets straight to the point.

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Concision refers to how short your writing can be, whilst still maintaining a high level of comprehension and depth.


To improve concision in writing, you must:

  • Write in short, simple and readable sentences

If you have to take a breath when you are reading a sentence aloud, then it is too long!

Long and sophisticated sentences are harder for readers to understand because they usually forget what was said in the beginning!


When you are writing, take some time to read your work aloud. If you need to take a breath, then you need to break that sentence into two.


  • Don’t write fluff

When students are composing English responses in Year 10, they like to show off all the knowledge they know about their text or topic.

The problem with this, is that the content they write about are usually NOT related to their thesis.


When you’re composing English responses in Year 10, try to refrain from overwriting.

Only write what the audience needs to know and leave everything else out!

This way, your writing will be clear and concise.


english-guide-year-10-How-to-compose-a row of books on the ground twisting like a pathenglish-responses-in-year-10


No one wants to read a choppy essay, where your ideas and sentences are all disconnected. It makes your writing seem unsophisticated and lazy.

When you use transitions in your English responses, your essay will flow smoothly and your ideas will progress.


There are two types of transitions that you must use:

  • Transition between sentences
  • Transition between paragraphs


So, to use transitioning in your work, you need to:

  • Find arguments that link to the thesis

Remember, your thesis is the backbone of your essay. So, it is crucial that the arguments derive from it to make your essay flow smoothly.

When you have an argument that doesn’t relate to your thesis, you break the flow of your English response.


  • Show a logical progression between your arguments

Your essay should guide the reader through your writing. This means that your arguments aren’t only related to each other, but also slowly lead into to the next one.

Think flow charts.


  • Use connective words

These are words like “however, moreover, also, then, furthermore, subsequently, for example…”

These words are used to show a relationship between sentences and ideas. You need to use them if you want to have a smooth flowing and sustained essay.

english-guide-year-10-How-to-compose-a wall full of keys to symbolise key ideas english-responses-in-year-10


Expanding on key ideas

Remember, Year 10 is all about improving your ideas and arguments. Teachers expect sophisticated and complex ideas in your writing.

This means that you can’t briefly write about an idea anymore.


So, how exactly do we expand on key ideas?

  • Research to develop your understanding

You should always research your text or topic before you write. When you research, you gain insight on the text/topic, see new perspectives and have a deeper understanding on your subject.

It will also give you an opportunity to form an opinion about your text/topic and formulate arguments. This will help you write stronger essays in Year 10.


  • Ask why, how and so what?

When you ask ‘why’, ‘how’ or ‘so what’, you are looking for any missing gaps of information in your writing. This is how you can deepen your analysis and make it more complex and sophisticated.


  • Look for possible confusing or ambiguous areas and expand

When you find an ambiguous area in your essay, don’t be afraid to write a few more sentences to clear it up! This will make your argument seem more solid and remove any confusions.


Now it’s time for you to apply these skills!

Now that you know the skills needed to compose English responses in Year 10, let’s put these into practice.

The following articles will show you how to write a variety of English responses, ranging from imaginative pieces, to persuasive essays and even speeches!



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