You will notice that for many forms of assessment, you are asked to organize and structure your ideas. This lesson gives you a kind of 'recipe' for cooking up an essay as it were. The template approach to structuring writing, which is presented in this lesson, is not meant to be prescriptive. Rather, consider the PIE method a kind of guideline or safety mechanism to fall back on.
For each sentence that you write, you should ask yourself: 'What is the purpose of this sentence?' If you find the purpose of a sentence is not clear, you may want to replace it with something more effective. This lesson aims to help you structure your essay and commentary writing.
What is PIE?
For the sake of this activity, let's say there are three kinds of sentences: points, illustrations and explanations (PIE). Using these three sentence types, in this order, is a natural and recognizable pattern for many readers (including examiners). Here is an overview of the PIE method and a tutorial video on how it has been applied to an essay on two literary works.
The PIE method
Point - Use statements, claims and positions that are strong, bold and deep. Make interpretations of the texts that you have studied and state these clearly.
Illustrate - Use quotes, references to passages or examples to support your claims. Be sure to integrate these well into your writing, using phrases such as, 'as we see in line...' or 'for example.'
- Explain - Finally, explain how the illustration supports the main idea.
Check for understanding
Here are a few questions to see if you understood everything in the tutorial video:
What is the point of the PIE method?
What is the purpose of a thesis statement?
What are topic sentences and how do they relate to the thesis statement?
What do you write first and last, when writing an essay?
What belongs in an introduction?
What belongs in a conclusion?
Find the PIE structure
There are several ways to find evidence of the PIE structure in essay writing. You can get into 'expert' groups, where each group is responsible for finding one aspect of the PIE method; one group is responsible for finding points, the other: illustrations, and the third: explanations. Each group uses a different color highlighter to highlight their aspect. Finally as a class, go through the essay, sentence by sentence. If two groups claim to have highlighted the same sentences, then they both need to give arguments to explain why it belongs to them. This kind of activity helps you define the key characteristics of points, illustrations and explanations.
Here is an essay that you can use for this activity. Although it is not a Paper 2 essay on literature, it makes use of the PIE structure. Again highlight, with three different colors the points, illustrations and explanations. In the answer key below can be understood with the following key:
Bold = points
Italics = illustrations
Underline = explanations