BUSS4 Exam Technique - The Basics of PEEL

Jim Riley

19th June 2013

In our exam preparation workshops, we coach students to develop their essay writing technique by using a series of approaches which help students write relevant answers to the required depth of application, analysis and evaluation.A core part of that approach is the PEEL technique for writing powerful paragraph points. PEEL is a particularly powerful approach because it allows students to reach the highest levels of application (good application) and analysis (good analysis) in just one well-developed and argued paragraph point.Here's a key-point summary of the PEEL method.

PEEL and Planning

The PEEL approach is proven to deliver better exam performance in BUSS4 when (properly applied) because it provides an appropriate structure and depth for each point that you make in your essay.

However, the PEEL approach is only effective if you firstly plan the key points you are going to make in each essay. Usually (not always) an answer will develop arguments both for and against the underlying assertion in the essay question. Plan the points you are going to make and the examples you want to use to help support your point.

Every Paragraph Makes ONE Point

This is the key to making PEEL work.

Taken together, the points made in your essay should combine to provide a relevant response to the chosen essay question. You can only write a persuasive essay if you identify a relevant point and develop it fully.

Before you start a paragraph, be absolutely clear what point you are making & why it is relevant to the question. Then off you go!

Star the paragraph point by stating the point you are making. Even better - use the words in the essay question.

For example, a paragraph point might begin:

"One way in which the external environment is unfavourable to UK retailers at the moment is..."

"An important way in which it is important for new leaders to implement change programmes quickly is..."

"A key reason why contingency planning is increasingly important to multinationals operating in a fast-changing external environment is..."

"One way in which retrenchment is a suitable strategy for a market leader facing intensive competition from more innovative competitors is..."

Explain the Point - Step by Step

The next step in PEEL is to develop your point. Explain your reasoning - perhaps by applying a relevant theory - and/or by explaining the nature of cause and effect. This is the basis of your analysis.

Try to do this by us by using a stepping-stones approach: explain your point step-by-step. Imagine the examiner is a little tired or slow - explain it to him/her! This leads to lead - which in turn can mean this - leading to this.

Putting in some relevant theory (e.g. a model like Ansoff, Porter, Lewin, elasticity can really help this part of the paragraph point - it adds credibility to your point. You don't have to write everything you know about the theory - just show how it is relevant.

Back Your Point with Evidence!

You've stated your point and explained it.

Now back it up with some examples and evidence!

In Section A of the exam you are provided with a brief case study item. In order to achieve good application you must use the item plus your own real business examples.

Try to make at least 2 references to the Section A case study but use it to help explain the point you are making.

In Section B there is no case study except a brief mention of a business at the start of the essay title. You do not need to mention this business so only do this if you know some detail about it and can use it to make your point. Otherwise bring in a few of your own real business examples in detail to help make your points. Your example must be used to support a relevant argument in order to achieve the top level for this skill.

As you use your research examples in both Section A and Section B it is important to avoid "story-telling" and the regurgitation of too much irrelevant detail. The examiner does not want to know how much you know about your real-life business examples. Rather, he/she wants you to explain HOW and WHY the examples you have chosen support the points you are making.

A good way to think about using research examples in both Section A and Section B is that they add credibility to your answer. As you make and explain a point relevant to the chosen essay question, your use of evidence is there to support the argument.

As you introduce research examples into each paragraph point, also try to compare and contrast the evidence. How does one example compare with another - or do they both lend support to the point you are making?

Evaluate Your Point

Don't leave evaluation until the end of your essay. Evaluate each paragraph point as you go.

Evaluation needs to take place during the essay and not just at the end. A simple way to evaluate at the end of the paragraphs is to say “however, this would depend on…..”.

How important is the point you have made to your overall argument? Really important? Then say so. Not convinced? Then explain your reservations.

...And finally...LINK back to the essay question

This is a very powerful way to ensure that your answer remains relevant - and it also signals to the examiner that your paragraph point has helped answer the essay question!

Use the words in the essay title once again.

"This point has shown that the external environment can be judged as very unfavourable for many high street retailers at the moment..."

"This point has illustrated how important it is for significant change programmes to be implemented decisively with the total commitment of the firm's leadership".

Hopefully, if you apply the PEEL technique, you'll be well on the way to reaching good application and good analysis (+ some evaluation marks too) and scoring highly in both your BUSS4 essays!

Jim Riley

Jim co-founded tutor2u alongside his twin brother Geoff! Jim is a well-known Business writer and presenter as well as being one of the UK's leading educational technology entrepreneurs.

You might also like

© 2002-2024 Tutor2u Limited. Company Reg no: 04489574. VAT reg no 816865400.