The Dreaded Essay Exam…Dun Dun Duuuun || Tips!

Essay Exam

Pre-Exam Preparation

If your professor has given possible exam topics or questions, then use this to your advantage. Think about what arguments can be made and how the course readings can relate to these topics. If your professor has failed to mention any details or information about your essay exam, then still revert back to the course material. Reviewing lecture notes/slides and readings can help you develop and/or identify possible essay topics. I would also recommend looking over any feedback given on past written assignments in the course. This feedback will help you understand what the professor is looking for when marking the essay.

Now it’s time for the exam… how do I write it!? 

Most often, professors will give you 2 or more essay questions to choose from. In order to make the best decision, quickly think of the course material that can be used for each question. Once you figure out which question you are more knowledgeable in, plan out the essay. I like creating a quick brainstorming map of what my thesis and supporting ideas will be. After doing that, I’ll start my essay in typical timed fashion (intro/thesis, body paragraphs, conclusion). Check out my essay writing/process here.

Another important point to remember is to always use subheadings. Subheadings not only show that you know how to organize the knowledge you’ve gained from the course, but will help your professor navigate through your essay easier.

Pro Tips!

  1. Always refer back to the essay question/prompt. You want to ensure that you are answering the question(s) as best as you can. If you don’t refer back to the question, you may miss an important point.
  2. Clear and straightforward examples from the lecture (and text). Incorporating relevant information from the lecture not only is appreciated by your professor but shows that you are able to use this information critically in an essay format.
  3. Do not, I repeat, do not, overlook the importance of a conclusion. The conclusion is your last chance to leave a strong positive impression on your reader. Think of it this way, first impressions matter but our most recent impressions can quickly become the most memorable. Therefore, if your conclusion is weak then, the rest of your essay may appear weaker because of it.

And there you have it.. a little breakdown of the process and a few tips to help you ace your essay exam!

Essay Exam

See you in my next post!



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