Essay Questions Guidelines for Better College Essays
How can you make an impressive argument in your essay? Whether you are writing an argumentative, analytical, political, literature or any other kind of assignment or test essay, the reader will form an opinion on your writing from your first few sentences. However, unlike an assignment essay that gives you plenty of time to put your ideas together or a chance to hire a professional writer to do it for you, a test essay requires to be spontaneous. In as much as you cannot predict the essay questions for an exam, you must adequately prepare for what is to come. So, start by learning how to approach and dissect essay prompts to achieve better grades for on your tests.
Read the Instructions and Note the Key Points
Determine what exactly the question demands. The fundamental feature of a well-written essay is that is must answer the prompt. Most students enter the exam room with a great idea for their composition and quickly skim through the instructions and begin writing. Having great ideas but little or no understanding of the instructions gives the student high expectations but results in a weak or average grade. So, the first thing is to read and get the guidelines straight. Does the question ask for your opinion on a subject or does it ask you to analyse or synthesise an aspect? You can underline or highlight key words in the essay questions including the main verb to determine the approach and focus of the essay.
Make a Thesis Statement That Answers the Question
A thesis statement gives the reader a summary of the content of your essay. Thesis statements must restate the essay questions and the direction of your answer. Developing your thesis right from the beginning, helps you stick to the scope of the question, rather than writing your essay and creating a thesis that conforms to it. Though the positioning of the thesis is not printed on stone, it is generally acceptable to place your thesis at the end of the introductory paragraph of your academic essay. You can put it at the beginning of your essay as your topic sentence if it fits the context best.
Develop Relevant Points to Answer the Question
Each critical point answering the question should take its own paragraph. So, the required length for the essay will determine the number of points and consequently the number of sections you should write. A short essay ideally requires 5-6 paragraphs where 3-4 of them form the essay body. In deciding the points to discuss in your essay, ask yourself if they are relevant to the context of the question. Are you honest to yourself about the relevance of a point you are about to write?
Lay Out Your Plan in an Outline
While you may have the perfect mental plan on how you will structure your essay at the beginning, the presumable time constraint and general pressure of the exam environment might jumble up your thoughts. An outline helps you connect your thoughts and maintain cohesion to your writing. For example, if the essay asks you to compare and contrast, you must give points for both sides of the spectrum.
Use Persuasive Language to Strengthen Your Answer
Getting an excellent essay idea in your mind is different from actually laying it down in writing. Essay questions test not just your ability to dissect a topic, but also your skills in structuring your work. Begin with a powerful introduction. Don’t start your topic sentence with a cliché. Use unique expressions and avoid repetition. While an anecdote or quote would work great, only use topic relevant phrases and just what you understand. An example of a good paragraph structure is to write a compelling topic sentence, follow up with an evidence-based explanation and finish with relating it to the thesis.
Link Your Paragraphs
Rather than jumping from one idea to the next, link your ideas by building up on them. For example, in a literature discussion essay on the role of the witches in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, you can focus on the effect they have on Macbeth and how they progressively lead to his ruin. Your points should connect and lead to the tragic eventuality.
Finally, Go Through Your Essay to Confirm That the Question Is Well Answered
Time management is essential when writing an essay exam. If the essay is 40 minutes, plan to write it in 30 minutes. Use the last 10 minutes to going through it. Take at least five minutes to quickly read through your essay to be sure that your content answers the question at hand. Re-reading your writing also helps you see your paper in a new perspective.
Correct Punctuation and Grammar Errors
While it is best to read your essay a second time to remove grammatical mistakes, it is not usually practical in most exam scenarios. So, while reading the first time, make the necessary punctuation and grammar adjustments. Proper grammar is key to getting your message across to your reader.
Practice Writing a Few Times before the Exam
Studying for most exams is easy as you only need to read your lecture notes and revise a couple of past test papers. However, preparing for an essay exam can be wearisome. The most effective way to study is to practice writing with essay prompts examples related to the subject of the examination. Create an exam atmosphere to test yourself on time management, quick thinking, and speed.
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