5 Effective Tips for Writing Essay Exams

Nobody likes exams, but at some point, everyone starts to think of them and prepare. Essay-based exams have existed for many years, but now they have become more and more common. Essay exams can be quite challenging because they require you to interpret a complex question, which can also be lengthy.

You need to address this question with a solid thesis statement and write an essay where you’ll develop this statement and also support it with specific evidence. Just as if this task wasn’t stressful enough already, you should also hurry up because your time is limited, and you need to write your essay quickly.

To succeed on essay exams, you need to be good at writing. You won’t be able to dedicate much time to editing and polishing your grammar so your first draft should have a proper structure and be decent in terms of spelling, punctuation, etc. However, the technical side of this task isn’t the hardest one. You will have to consider complex subjects, so you should make sure that you know all the key information from your course. Read through your lecture notes and prepare for possible questions.

Here are some tips that will help you prepare and write the best essay you can.

1. Prepare

An essay exam is all about paying attention to details and analyzing connections between them. Your essay should be specific, and all the specific details should be connected to the main themes of the course. To prepare for an essay exam, the best solution is to create a study guide that includes all the important topics and all the information from different units of the course that you may need.

Take a look at your lecture notes and make a list of the main subjects and topics. There’s no need to focus on specific facts at first. Just list the themes, and then read through your lecture notes once again. This time, write down the important facts, examples, terms, and other specific details related to each topic from your list.

Think of what questions you can encounter on the exam. Take a look at your list of themes and think of what topics will require students to connect many pieces of information from the main themes of the course. Don’t forget to analyze questions from old exams. Although you likely won’t see the same questions again, you will know what types of questions are most likely to appear on the exam.

If you’re not sure how to write an essay, it might be a good idea to get some essay help from sites like legitwritingservices.com. Having an essay sample written by a professional writer is definitely an advantage, because it serves as a perfect example of what you need to write on your exam.

We also recommend that you prepare for the exam physically. Exams are always stressful, and you don’t want to feel exhausted because of the pressure of the situation. Make sure to get enough sleep before the exam. Calm down and relax. You don’t want to feel anxious during the exam, and neither want you to be tired. Besides, make sure to have a good breakfast before the exam so that you won’t get hungry. However, eating too much can make you sleepy.

2. Understand the question

Exams are always stressful. Given that students need to write their essays within a limited period of time, they often don’t allocate enough time for reading the entire question and understanding it. We recommend that you read the whole question and take a few moments to reflect on it so that you can know exactly what your instructor wants from you.

The essay question will likely contain a number of important keywords that will help you figure out the right direction for your essay. Here are some of the important words that may be used in your exam question, and what they mean.

    • Compare: it means that you should focus on the similarities and differences between two things. Quite often, the similarities are especially important.
    • Contrast: in this case, you should focus exclusively on the differences between the two subjects.
    • Describe: this is probably the easiest type of essay where you should simply write down a list of parts, qualities, and characteristics.
    • Evaluate: in this case, you should provide your opinion or use the opinions of others to support your argument. To make your opinion stronger, you should also include some evidence.
    • Discuss: in this case, you should start a debate. Simply put, you need to compare and contrast in the same essay.
    • Summarize: you should narrow down a broader argument and draw conclusions.
    • Analyze: you need to break down an argument into smaller points, interpret, and discuss them. If you’re asked to “critically analyze” something, it means that you should also provide evidence from academic sources.
    • Interpret: you should explain the remaining by using examples and explaining relationships.

3. Write an outline

A usc.edu states that outline will help you plan your whole essay so that you’ll be able to create a proper logical structure and present all of your key points in the right order. Of course, you might not have enough time to write a detailed outline, but you don’t need it. Just jot down the overall structure and keywords. We also recommend that you spend at least 5% of your time writing a strong introduction.

4. Write a three-step argument

To write a persuasive and logically solid argument, use a three-step structure. First, provide your basic thesis statement. After this, explain your statement in the context of the essay question. Even if you think that the connection between the question and your argument is obvious, you should still describe and explain it. The third step is a discussion. Consider your argument in a more general context and provide your personal opinion. You should demonstrate your logical thinking instead of simply listing points.

5. Edit and proofread

We know that submitting your essay as soon as you write the last word of your conclusion can be very tempting, but you shouldn’t do it unless you’ve already run out of time. Even the most talented and experienced writers never create perfect first drafts. Make sure to allocate enough time for editing. Check out the logical structure of your essay and make sure to fix all the grammar mistakes. No matter how great your ideas are, you won’t get a good grade if your essay contains spelling errors or wrong punctuation.

Wrapping Up

Although an essay exam can be very stressful because your time is limited, you can prepare for it. Make sure to refresh all the important materials from the course in your memory, get enough sleep, and put some effort into time management. Don’t forget that writing an outline and editing are important aspects of the writing process that will help you write the best essay possible.


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