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12/09/2015

Acing Your Exam's Essay

Mid-terms are just around the corner, so it is time to brush up on test-taking strategies. Here are some tips for making your essay questions a little less difficult.

Know the Question

You first need to understand the question and what it is asking you to do. Identify the action verbs:
  • summarize, discuss, explain- mean that you should review a concept in your own words.
  • outline, list, solve- require more detail and description of steps or processes.
  • defend, justify, argue- want you to write in favor of an idea and to give reasons for the side presented.
  • define, clarify, illustrate, describe- ask for specific detail and meaning behind a concept.
  • compare, contrast, distinguish- require you to describe two or more situations or ideas.

Organize First

Do not just start writing away. Make an outline of your thoughts on a separate piece of paper first, including your thesis and key words you want to use. Having an organized process will help you write the essay quicker and make it stronger for the reader.

Restate the Question

You should paraphrase the question, putting it into your own words, and use it for your introductory paragraph. Doing so will let the grader know that you understood the question, and will help them see if you interpreted it differently. It also helps you get the question straight in your own mind.

Follow the Rules of Composition

Make sure your essay has an introduction, body, and conclusion. The body should include at least two, but ideally three points to back up your thesis statement with supportive details and examples. See our earlier post on <the elements of an essay> (ADD LINK!) for more detail.

Write Legibly

Follow the rules of penmanship to make it easier for your grader to read your essay. Use blue or black pen or pencil to keep your answer visible. Try not to smudge the ink or cross out sentences. If your teacher has to work hard to read your essay, you will likely receive a lower grade.

Formatting Makes it Pretty

When appropriate, use numbers or bullets to list out your points. Do not bury them in the middle of a paragraph, but make them clearly identifiable to your reader. You should avoid long paragraphs, but if you must write one, be sure to underline the main point. Using these formats will help your teacher recognize what you want to say.

For Tutoring in Hoover, AL

Get more help with test-taking strategies at The Tutoring Center in Hoover. Our one-to-one tutoring programs in test prep, math, reading, and writing are tailored to your needs based on a free diagnostic assessment. Call 205-987-9577 to schedule yours today. Find out more about us from our webpage.  

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