English Exam Essay

Submitted By igomes95
Words: 875
Pages: 4

Focus on the question
What are the terms of the question? * Decide what the key words of the question are, and underline them. * Ensure that you have defined them - at least in your own mind. * If you think they are problematic, define them at the beginning of your essay. * Make sure your definition is sound: do not try to stretch the meaning of words too far, but do not just jump at the first possible idea.
What has been asked? * Answer the question asked – not the one you would have liked to be asked. * Avoid being irrelevant. * Be sure that you show explicitly how your ideas relate to the question.
Close analysis
If you are asked to analyze an extract: * Read it through two or three times * On your second reading begin to underline key words and phrases * Make a plan of your answer, ensuring that you cover every point asked in the question * Concentrate on the passage and avoid irrelevant material.
A worked example of analysis can be found in Critical analysis: Analyzing a passage
Wake up the examiner!
Be willing to think * Do not adopt the first possible approach. * Try to range widely but keep to the terms of the question. * Be willing to dispute the terms of the question if you are given the opportunity (for example, in questions that ask ‘how far…’, ‘to what extent’ or ‘do you think’?).
Create a strong opening and closing
The examiner is going to be marking many similar essays. To send the examiner to sleep immediately: * Just repeat the words of the question ‘This essay asks about … and I am going to …’) * Give a hackneyed dictionary definition of one or more of the terms in the question.
Instead, try to wake the examiner up. Try starting with: * A short controversial statement * A relevant quotation * A striking piece of evidence.
The main thing is to demonstrate that you have thought about the question.
A strong ending is important in that it creates the final impression the examiner carries away from your answer: * Save a bold statement until the end * Or finish with a useful quotation.
Illustrate amply with relevant material * Do not try to get by on ignorance and waffle – the examiner will spot it! * Use a good number of brief but relevant quotations, derived from your thorough knowledge of the text.
Think about your style
Develop a fluent style
Give some thought, however brief, to each sentence before you write it: * Does it say what you mean? * Does it make the point?
Be accurate!
Anyone claiming to be a student of English is expected to have a good knowledge of the mechanics of the language: * If you have problems with spelling, grammar and punctuation, take action before the examination. * You will be penalized for errors. * Examiners award marks for ‘quality of language’. * Try to leave time to read through your paper before handing it in.
Be succinct! * Say what you mean in the clearest and shortest manner. * Leave yourself time to make new points. * Avoid repeating ideas: if you find yourself writing ‘as I said earlier’, be sure that it is really helpful to repeat the same point.
Use an appropriate tone and vocabulary
Most of the exams (and essays) that you will write require a formal