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d d d d d d d d d d d d d Plan your time wisely.
If you are, at this moment, frantically cramming for tomorrow morning’s exam, that first tip may not sound all that useful. Procrastination is probably the biggest reason why bright students sometimes get poor grades. (Start early!)
You can also plan your time during the test itself. Your professor knows which paragraphs are harder to write, and will evaluate them accordingly. Does the question ask you to “evaluate”? If so, don’t fill your page with a summary. Likewise, if the question asks for “evidence,” don’t spend all your time giving your own personal opinions.
Start with the larger essay questions, so that you answer them before you burn out or run out of time.
If one essay question is worth 50% of the test score, spend 50% of your time on it.
If you finish early, you can always go back and add more detail. (As long as your additions and changes are legible, your instructor will probably be happy to see signs of revision.)
2) Answer the right question.
Before you begin your answer, you should be sure what the question is asking. I often grade a university composition competency test, and sometimes have to fail well-written papers that fail to address the assigned topic.
If the question asks you to “explain” a topic, then a paragraph that presents your personal opinion won’t be of much help. If the question asks you to present a specific example, then a paragraph that summarizes what “some people say” about the topic won’t be very useful.
3) Collect your thoughts.
Resist the urge to start churning out words immediately. If you are going to get anywhere in an essay, you need to know where you are going.
To avoid time-consuming false starts, jot down an outline, or draw an idea map. An idea map is like a family tree for your thesis. Start with the “trunk” (a circle in the center of your paper). Draw lines that connect that central idea to main branches (circles that represent subtopics), and keep fanning out in that manner. If one particular branch is fruitful, cut it off and make it a separate entity.
If a branch doesn’t bear fruit, prune it off. You should identify and avoid the deadwood in advance — before you find yourself out on a limb. (Sorry… I’ll try to leaf the puns alone… I wood knot want you to be board.)
Get right to the point. Don’t bury your best points under an avalanche of fluff.
The Great Depression was an important time in our nation’s history. Unemployment, urban decay, and a sense of hopelessness filled almost every part of human life. Yet, even in the midst of great misery, people needed to entertain themselves. People tried many different ways to relieve their tensions, from religious revivals, to Jazz music, to membership in the Communist party. But a whole lot of average people who were suffering in their daily lives often sought escapist entertainment in the form of movies. One such movie was Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times. In Modern Times, ”The Little Tramp” symbolizes the simple human values that are threatened by industrialism.
The author of the above passage not only wastes time composing six sentences before getting to her thesis (the very last sentence), she also clouds the issue by bringing up topics (religion, music, and Communism) that she has no intention of ever mentioning again. She could have spent that time on more depth, or on proofreading, or even on some other section of the test. If she had at the very least crossed out the unnecessary introduction, she would not have mislead the instructor.
In Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times, “The Little Tramp” symbolizes the simple human values that are threatened by industrialism — leisure, self-reliance, and compassion.
The revised example is simply the [slightly edited] last sentence of the original wordy and vague paragraph. This