English Exam Essay

Submitted By igomes95
Words: 875
Pages: 4

Focus on the question
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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.
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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.
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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!
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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’?).
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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.
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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
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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?
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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.
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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.
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Use an appropriate tone and vocabulary
Most of the exams (and essays) that you will write require a formal…