English I - How to Write Your Essays (TIPS) | Helpline for ICSE Students (Class 10) @icsehelpline

English I: How to Improve Your Essays (TIPS)

On a reader’s request, here are some ways you can improve your essays for the ICSE English Language Board Exam:


* Captivate your reader’s mind by making your beginning really interesting.

You can:

  • begin with a rhetorical question, ex. “Ever thought what life would be like if…?”
  • list a few words regarding the topic, ex “Lights. Lamps. And loads of love. Diwali is truly a time of celebration…” or “Roller coasters. Cotten candy. And lots of fun. That’s right, all these things can mean only one thing…”
  • write something which seems totally off topic but is a hidden link to the actual topic.
  • provide statistics to your readers, ex. “It has been said that 76% of human beings have a sweet tooth.” (these are not actual statistics)


* Use $100 words, i.e. use better vocabulary wherever appropriate.

For example, instead of ‘happy’, use ‘elated’, ‘overjoyed’, etc. You may also make use of idioms where appropriate.


* Make your paragraphs flow. Make sure that one paragraph is linked to the next.


* Do not go off-topic.


* Write at least five paragraphs: Introduction, Beginning, Middle, End, Conclusion.


* Think out of the box. Do not write something that you have read before or something that has been published before. Make your essay your own. Write about something that only you have experienced. If you are writing a narrative essay, make your characters have realistic personalities.

For example, write about what your grandmother would say if you broke a vase instead of imagining what a fictional grandmother would say. Such things add a realistic and unique touch to your essays.


* Wrap up your essay in a polished way, but make sure not to make it a summary of the essay, ex. if it is a persuasive/argumentative essay, conclude it by reinstating your stand in a different way than how you did in the beginning of the essay.


Update as on January 12th, 2019:

* Most importantly, make sure you have your grammar (punctuation, spelling, capitalization, sentence structure) perfect! Often, it’s the little things that can make the biggest difference. Ask your teacher to point out the grammar mistakes, if any, in your essays. If you want help, send over a few of your essays to us, and we’ll give you some feedback to the best of our ability.


These were a few tips and pointers that I could think of from the top of my head. Hope these guidelines help you while writing your essays for the English Board Exam! ๐Ÿ™‚


Note: You are forbidden to reproduce any part of this work without our prior permission. For more information, please contact us or go through our copyright policy.ย 



Also see other relevant posts to help you score well in your ICSE Board Exams 2019:

ICSE English II: How to Improve Your Answers for Poetry (TIPS)

Hindi: How to Improve Your Essays (TIPS โ€“ Part 2)

How to Write Your ICSE Board Exam Papers (TIPS)


52 thoughts on “English I: How to Improve Your Essays (TIPS)

  1. Pavithra says:

    Hello, can you please help me in writing precis ! I am really bad at writing precis. Can you please give me some tips on how to write it in order to score full marks.


  2. ASHUTOSH says:

    I have first written on one topic of essay for 1 page. Then cancelled it and wrote another topic in ICSE exam of English.
    Will it have any negative impact in ICSE exam.


    • ICSE Helper says:

      Hi Ashutosh,

      It shouldnโ€™t be a problem. The examiners usually donโ€™t focus on what has been cut or omitted. So, we would suggest that you not worry about it! Focus on your next exam. ๐Ÿ™‚ All the best!


      • ICSE Helper says:

        Hi Astha,

        Thanks for stopping by! That’s apt advice for someone who’ll be writing their board exams for the first time, as time is certainly precious. But for someone who has already given the exam, as we mentioned in our reply to Ashutosh, they shouldn’t worry about it.


    • ICSE Helper says:

      Hi Charan,

      Weโ€™d suggest you go through numericals that you have previously solved. Try solving them in your mind, and also revise those steps by writing them down. Do this for different types of numericals.

      Hope this helps! If you have any questions, let us know. ๐Ÿ™‚ All the best!


  3. Anirudh says:

    Hi there…..plzzz help me how to give a great start on a narrative essay ….when the start is not given….my exams is scheduled day after tomorrow…..plss..help me out


    • ICSE Helper says:

      Hi Anirudh,

      Apologies for the delayed reply. We came across your comment and felt the need to reply for the benefit of students reading this now and in the future.

      For narrative writing, you may begin with
      * a dialogue
      * an onomatopoeia
      * a question that the narrator is asking himself/herself
      * a description of the characters or scene

      We’ll keep adding ideas as they come to us. Till then, we hope this helps you write your essays in the future. Thanks for visiting!


    • abstractthoughtsandeccentricities says:

      I am giving my English paper tomorrow. Personally, do you think starting off the essay with a relevant quote would make the essay seem interesting? I quite like the idea of starting the essay with a rhetorical question but I often start writing with a quote for poetry on my blog…I thought I could do the same in the exam. Would the Council accept that?


      • ICSE Helper says:

        Hi there,

        Good to see you here, again! Hope you are doing well.

        Either a quote or a rhetorical questions would work. If you use the quote, though, make sure you are using the exact words. If you’re confused, you can say, “It is said that…” without quotation marks around the said quote.

        Hope that helps! Let me know if you have further questions. All the best for your exams! Keep visiting. ๐Ÿ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

    • ICSE Helper says:

      Hi Raghu,

      Choose whichever you are comfortable with. If you have a knack for storytelling or narrating incidents, choose narrative. If you have relevant points regarding the topic given in argumentative, choose that.

      Hope your paper went well. Apologies for the delayed reply.

      Good luck for the rest of your exams! ๐Ÿ™‚


  4. Riya Dalal says:

    this is an amazing article for improving creative writing skills but i have a question
    how do i improve my vocabulary ??
    i read books but that didnt help me in any way around n within a week i have my board exams n the first paper itself is english 1


    • ICSE Helper says:

      Hi Riya,

      Apologies for the delayed reply. We came across your comment and felt the need to reply for the benefit of students reading this now and in the future.

      We don’t believe that vocabulary is something you should stress over when it comes to essay writing. Nonetheless, here are a few pointers to improve your vocabulary.

      Since vocabulary can’t really be cultivated in a few days’ time, we would suggest you make a list of words whose meanings you don’t know. Write down such words whenever you come across them in books, magazines, or newspapers. You can even write the word once and make a tally chart indicating how many times you came across that word. Once you find that word frequently popping up in things you are reading, make a point to look it up. Don’t overdo it, else you may not remember the definition.

      For essays, especially if you don’t have much time, you can look up lists of commonly used words and their synonyms. If you feel you use a word extensively, look up its synonyms, and start using those, as well. It’s all a matter of self-awareness. Pay attention to words such as happy, sad, exciting, nice, amazing, beautiful, etc. and find appropriate synonyms to use in their place.

      Vocabulary is something you may need to cultivate throughout your life, so we hope this helps. Thanks for stopping by the blog. ๐Ÿ™‚


  5. Catherine says:

    Can u pls tell me about some good book of eng lang for synonyms & antonyms for class 10 so that it can be helpful for enriching my vocabulary


    • ICSE Helper says:

      Hi Catherine,

      We’d suggest that instead of buying a book specially for synonyms and antonyms, simply search for lists of the same on the internet and take a printout. Or, you can go through the words whose meanings have been asked in comprehension passages in past Board papers and in model test papers to improve your vocabulary.

      Hope this helps! If you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. Thanks for visiting and stay connected. ๐Ÿ™‚


    • ICSE Helper says:


      Hi there! Thanks for stopping by. ๐Ÿ™‚

      The key to time management is practice. The more you practice, the more aware you are regarding which type of questions require more of your time and which questions you are able to finish quickly. Try to increase your speed and write fast from the beginning. Keep a constant watch on the time. Keeping aside ten minutes to check your answers at the end, divide the remaining time by the number of marks worth of questions that you have to attempt. Hence, decide how much time you can spare per mark. Based on that and the number of marks which a question carries, calculate how much time you can devote to that particular question. Follow the same pattern for the remaining questions. You may finish some earlier than the maximum time you have allotted to them. In that case, you can use the extra time for other questions which require more work. If there’s something that you cannot remember at that particular moment, leave space for it and skip it. However, remember to go back to that question. Make sure you don’t leave it entirely! Write what little you may know.

      Hope this helps! If you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Good luck and keep visiting!


  6. ankitha shetty says:

    can you help me to write some points in narrative composition which may improve the quality of composition.
    for the topic , ‘narrate an experience in which you have visited to village fair with your friends.’


  7. hersheys says:

    could u pls give a few tips on how to write an arguementative essay… plzz. thank u so much for helping all those of us who are in a definite need of last minute tips.thanks a lot ๐Ÿ™‚


    • ICSE Helper says:

      Hi there!

      Thanks for visiting and for the positive feedback. Much appreciated. ๐Ÿ™‚

      As for argumentative essays, we’d suggest you stick to either “for” the topic or “against” it. You may choose to give the pros and cons for both, but make sure you strictly assert your stand in your essay so that the examiner is not confused whether you are writing for or against the topic. Base your arguments on facts and write objectively. Of course, ultimately it depends on your skill and how well you are able to assert yourself without seeming too defensive or emotional.

      Hope this helps! If you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Thanks for visiting. Good luck and stay connected! ๐Ÿ™‚


  8. Vachaspati Mishra says:

    thanx…this website is really cool……i have given 6 icse 2015 exams…….anyway please post some last tips for physics which is on 16 th march 2015…please


  9. Divyansh says:

    Hi .
    i just got over from my english 1 paper of icse board class 10 and on reaching home i found that in my question paper,in essays topic 2 ie.
    “you had booked a train in early morning and woke up late. you missed it you catch a bus to another station where you hope to catch the train…… narrate the event”
    i have written time of the train as 9:30 am but the train needed to be early morning.. so my question is will the teacher give me some marks for the rest of the essay (which i have written according to topic) or i will get a big zero in essay..

    help please.i am getting frustrated thinking about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ICSE Helper says:


      I wouldn’t worry if I were you. I believe “early morning” is subjective and can be interpreted differently. Since you can’t really go back and change your answer now, have faith that everything will be fine. ๐Ÿ™‚


Share your thoughts...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s