Student Model Essays

These model essays provide examples of sound academic writing.

Model Essays
Instructions for Reading Essays

The general link takes you to the site, which looks like this:

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To choose the essay you’d like to view, click on the drop down menu to select your choice, and then click submit. Alternatively, choose a specific essay from the choices outlined below, after you’ve read through the assignment details.

Once you’ve chosen an essay, there are two ways to access the comments.

You can read the essays straight up or choose to view all or any of the four types of commentary available, or some combination thereof by clicking on the following categories in the display box on the left hand side of the screen:

Organization & Format

Correctness & Choice

Thought & Detail + Content & Understanding (Thought & Detail + Content & Understanding)

Literary & Rhetorical Matters

Each of these categories is colour coded.

OR you can click on the Show/Hide button in the central box. You can adjust the Font Size and Line Spacing using the arrow buttons next to the Show/Hide feature.

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Please note that in practice all English essays should be double-spaced (and note that EVERYTHING is double spaced in MLA style, including block quotations and Works Cited), and pages should be numbered and include your name in the header (page numbers and breaks do not show up on these html model essays). There should be no additional space inserted between paragraphs (set paragraph spacing to zero).

You can also switch to another essay, using the select box. The print feature allows you to print the essay. If you would like the comments to print, you have two choices. You can choose “show all bubbles” on the print page, or you will first need to open the comments boxes you wish to have displayed (shown below). In some cases you’ll need to do this strategically as a comment box might cover up your access to another highlighted passage. To return to the essay from the print page, use the back button in the top left corner. All the comments will have closed upon your return.

When you select one or more of the comment categories from the display box, certain portions of the essay text are highlighted in those colours. To see the comments associated with those highlights, click on the highlighted portion and a text box will pop up. To remove the textbox, click again. Where there is a highlighted asterisk * in the essay, there is an additional comment.

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These categories are the same as those set out in our Essay Writing Guideline Chart and are grounded in the criteria set out by the NS Board of Education. Please note that your professors will not identify their comments using these categories in their marking of your work; however, the principles still apply.

For explanations of some of the grammatical terms, see the Departmental Grammar Pages.

In addition to these categories, each comment is flagged with a road sign to signal the following:

tl_files/sites/english/resources/Model Essays/Symbol1.jpg this symbol means there is an error that needs correcting

tl_files/sites/english/resources/Model Essays/Symbol2.jpg this symbol provides a tip, suggestion, or cautionary note

tl_files/sites/english/resources/Model Essays/Symbol3.jpg this symbol denotes a success, reassurance, or compliment

There are two categories of Model Essays: First Year and Upper Level.
Instructions: The descriptions of the assignments are given below. Click on the link to view the essay.

Instructions: The descriptions of the assignments are given below. Click on the link to view the essay.

First Year

Literary Analysis of a Poem:

Short Formal Literary Analysis (Persuasive): Poem Explication, English 1406: Writing and Reading Critically.Length: 4-5 pages (Times New Roman 12pt.) MLA style.

This essay is based on Philip Larkin’s poem “Home is so Sad.” You can read this poem at:


Topic: A discussion of literary devices and themes in a poem of your choice from our anthology. You are encouraged to design your own essay topic, but can use any of the topics we discussed in class. [Note: Proposal, Outline, and Draft submissions were required for this essay.]

Your essay will focus on a specific aspect of, or devices in, the poem and provide a persuasive analysis thereof.

Comparison + Research:

Comparison Essay, English 1406: Writing and Reading Critically. Requirements: research essay of 1500 words using at least 2 creditable secondary sources and following MLA style.


Who is the tragic hero in Antigone?  Be sure to carefully explain what you mean by "tragic hero" in your response.

Upper Level:

Comparison + Research:

Research Essay, English 3973: Children’s Literature 1. 9-12 pages double-spaced in Times New Roman 12 point font, or the equivalent, with standard margins. A minimum of 3 creditable (reputable) scholarly sources required. MLA style.

The student combined two general suggestions in coming up with her topic as outlined below.

ASSIGNMENT: Here are a few general ideas to help you come up with an essay topic.

Option 2: Book to book. Pair any book on the syllabus with another book of your choice (could be the same author) and examine how these books “talk to” each other. (You can also pair up 2 books from the syllabus, if you like.) What does one gain from considering these 2 books together? In other words, how does one book illuminate the other? What points does the comparison illuminate? (Note: If I don't own a copy of your 2nd choice, I ask that you hand one in with your essay.)

Option 3: The marriage of text and illustration. Choose a picture book and discuss the integral relationship between the text and the illustrations. In your analysis, identify the key elements of the story as it is told in words and pictures and explicate to what ends they are working. What sort of marriage is it? Equivalent? Dominant partner? Abusive? Wholesome?

Literary Theory:

Applied Theory Essay, English 2006: Strategies for Reading Literature. 2000-2500 words.

This essay is based on Marge Piercy’s poem “Barbie Doll.” You can read the poem on Piercy’s website:


In this assignment you are required to apply a particular critical perspective to one of the short stories or poems on the course outline, drawing on one of the theoretical readings to help frame your approach to the text. You may also make reference to the critical introductions to theses approaches in Ann Dobie’s Theory into Practice and in the Rivkin and Ryan theory anthology. Essentially, the aim is to develop a critical argument about the poem or short story in the context of a particular approach: New Criticism, feminism, postcolonialism, etc.

Option 2: In Gender Trouble, Judith Butler stresses the way in which gender identity is shaped by social expectations—that is, she describes gender as something that is performed by individuals in response to society’s assumptions about and standards of what it means to be male or female. Write an essay looking at Marge Piercy’s poem “Barbie Doll” in light of Butler’s theory of gender.