Taking the PEE... The Point, Evidence, Explanation method

August 22, 2015 User 2

How to cover all bases and give structure to your paragraphs when answering questions on a set piece of text.

When asked a question about a particular piece of text it can sometimes be difficult to sort all your ideas out and get them down on paper in sensible paragraphs. This is especially true in an exam situation where you want to cram all the technical terms you've learnt and revised onto your answer sheet.

The Point, Evidence, Explanation method (PEE) is great for organising paragraphs around your ideas and gives your argument some direction (and if you are anything like me, any help with focusing your ideas is never a bad thing).

So, let's take a look at each step of the PEE method in a little more detail using Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë ([1847] 2009):


P is for Point

This is where you make a statement about the text.

Example: Brontë seems to punish Isabella Linton for going against what was normal in Victorian society and leaving her husband by killing her off.


E is for Evidence

This is where you use the text to back up your statement by quoting from the passage you’ve been given or from the text if you’re working on an essay from home (don’t forget your quotation marks).

Example: “a kind of fever, slow at its commencement, but incurable, and rapidly consuming life towards the end.” (p.169)


E is for Explanation

This is where you let loose creatively (not so loose that you forget what you want to say) and explain how the evidence backs up your point. Here you can explain the meaning of the quote, discuss the subtext/your inferences and bring in some of the technical terms you’ve learned that will boost your score.

Example: The way that Isabella dies is dragged out and ‘slow’ but it also seems to reflect her descent from her place as an ideal female to a sinner in the eyes of polite Victorian society. Even the way that Brontë chooses a syndetic list to describe Isabella’s death extends the wait before ‘the end’. The use of the conjunctions ‘but’ and ‘and’ at the end of the sentence give a sense of the inevitable progression towards death that Isabella experienced as if to confirm the ‘incurable’ nature of her illness and her self-inflicted demise. To kill Isabella in such a cruel way seems like a punishment.


So the whole paragraph would read something like this:

Brontë seems to punish Isabella Linton for going against what was normal in Victorian society and leaving her husband by killing her off. Her death is described as “a kind of fever, slow at its commencement, but incurable, and rapidly consuming life towards the end”. This shows the way that Isabella dies is dragged out and ‘slow’ but it also seems to reflect her descent from her place as an ideal female to a sinner in the eyes of polite Victorian society. Even the way that Brontë chooses a syndetic list to describe Isabella’s death extends the wait before ‘the end’. The use of the conjunctions ‘but’ and ‘and’ at the end of the sentence gives a sense of the inevitable progression towards death that Isabella experienced as if to confirm the ‘incurable’ nature of her illness and her self-inflicted demise. To kill Isabella in such a cruel way seems like a punishment.


Using the PEE method, you can cover all you want to say in a structured and organised way that examiners will appreciate. Of course, this method works just as well with homework essays.

Why don’t you give it a try? Pick out  a short passage from your favourite book. Have a think about what you want to say then write a short paragraph using the PEE method. The more you practice, the quicker you’ll get at explaining what it is you want to say.


References

Brontë, E. ([1847] 2009), Wuthering Heights, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

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