Exam essay question
Exam essay questions require an answer that can vary from several paragraphs to several pages. How much you can write will depend on the marks available for the question, and the time available. Remember, though, that it is the quality, and not just the quantity, of the answer that counts in marks.
Exam essay questions allow you to demonstrate the depth of your understanding of a topic area.
You will need to structure your exam question in the usual way - introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. You will not need to reference your essay as you usually do in an essay, but you will need to acknowledge theory and research using relevant names.
- Use previous exam papers to help predict possible topics.
- Note common themes and common commands.
- Practise interpreting the question and developing your thesis statement
- Practise writing essay plans (write one bullet point indicating the topic for each paragraph)
- Practise writing full answers under the conditions you will face in the exam (try and match the physical conditions, equipment, and timing as closely as possible).
Strategies for answering questions
- Choose the question you will answer during the reading time.
- During the first 5-20 minutes of the exam write down the relevant points you can remember on all essay questions you will answer (see exam strategies).
- Before you write, analyse the question. Look at keywords and topic words. Work out what aspects of the topic you have been asked to write about.
- Develop a thesis statement from the question and include it in your introduction.
- Structure the points in the body paragraphs so that one point follows the other logically and clearly.
- As a general rule, one paragraph = one point, supported by an example, explanation, and evidence.