How to write effective KCSE English Paper 3 Essays

How to write effective KCSE English Paper 3 Essays

If you have read and understood the setbooks, answering questions 2 and 3 in English paper 3 should be easy. After understanding the question, you will need to determine relevant points, characters, or episodes to use in your essay. Take the first ten minutes to analyze the question and make brief notes. A high-scoring KCSE essay should have an introduction, four to five body paragraphs and a conclusion, and should be around 450 words. 

KCSE Essay Introduction

According to the 2019 KCSE Report an introduction should show that you understand the question. One way to show that you understand the question is by paraphrasing the question. First, identify the key words in the question before rewriting it in your own words. It is good practice to mention the book title and  author. You can also provide a brief summary of the main points you are going to discuss in your article as in the example below: 

Question: Friends come in handy when we are in distress and troubled. Discuss drawing illustrations from ADH by Henrik Ibsen.

When people are going through difficulties in their lives, it helps to have friends to rely on for social support. In Henrik Ibsen’s Adoll’s House, Nora and Christine Linde come through for each other severally.

Writing KCSE Essay Body Paragraphs

KCSE essays should have four to five body paragraphs. Each paragraph should start with a topic sentence that introduces the point you want to discuss. Provide relevant evidence from the text and explanation after the topic sentence. Names of characters should be accurate to avoid losing points for textual errors. 

Your goal should be to argue and illustrate your point. A common mistake that students make in body paragraphs is to narrate events from the text instead of showing how the events support their point. Such paragraphs are described as “thin” by KCSE examiners, and they do not score full points.

Remember you should be arguing and supporting your topic sentence therefore avoid narrating the text. As you conclude the paragraph make sure you have a clincher sentence- a statement that ties your paragraph to the question.  So be sure to have about 9 lines of evidence and explanation in each body paragraph to score full points. You can end your paragraphs with a “clincher”, a sentence that summarizes your paragraph as in the example below: 

Nora comes through for Linde when she is looking for a job desperately. When Christine comes back to their town, she comes to look for Nora, her long-time friend. She has lost her husband who she depended on for upkeep and now she has no means of survival since he left her nothing at the time of his death. She narrates to Nora the jobs she has to do so as to survive since the death of her husband. It as at this time also that Helmer has been promoted at the bank and therefore he should be in a position to help. When Christine mentions her predicament, Nora agrees to it quickly and mentions it to her husband who promises to find a job for Linde at the bank when the New Year starts. Indeed Nora comes through for Christine when she helps her get a job guaranteed by Helmer.

Concluding a KCSE essay

End your essay with a brief paragraph that summarizes what you discussed in the body. You may start with the phrase “In conclusion…” followed by a summary of the moral lesson from the question. Keep the conclusion short, a maximum of three lines. 

In conclusion, Nora and Mrs. Linder illustrate that friends can be a great source of social support when one is trying to overcome different challenges in their lives. 

Other KCSE tips

Remember to use simple language in your essay. Proofread your essay to check for spelling, grammar, and textual errors. We will be posting more sample essays to illustrate the  kind of essays that KCSE examiners expect to see. 

An essay by Chris Hani Misama Ogweno (

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