Tuesday, September 22, 2009

How to Get an "A" on Your Next Essay Test

By : Andrew Carson

All high school and college students know that getting good marks on essay tests is one of their biggest tasks in any academic year. If you can learn how to consistently write good essays then you will have gained an academic tool that will be of immense value to you in the coming years. In case you need some tips on how to be a better essay writer, then I would like to share my experience with you.

1. Begin each exam with a close look at the test and make a plan. Instead of writing at once, it is very important to read all of the questions and make a careful note of how many questions there are and whether there are any choices that you can make. Without a careful look at the test and without an idea of what you have to do there is a chance that you could even leave out a question or two. I know because it happened to me once!

2. Budget your time and make an outline of your essay. Once you know how many questions there are and which ones you have to answer, then it is crucial that you allocate your available time for each part of the test. Carry a watch with you because you may not get a seat with a good view of the clock. Besides time budgeting it is also a good practice to plan what you are going to write by creating an outline of the points that you are going to cover. When your outline is ready, then start writing and stay within the allotted time for each question.

3. Start off with a good introductory paragraph. Your first few sentences can influence the whole essay, either positively or negatively. So start it right by restating the question and then give a sketch of how you are going to tackle the question. This introductory paragraph will prepare the teacher for what is coming next and it will also help guide you through the next part of the essay.

4. Show that you know something about the course. The paragraphs that follow the introduction and precede the conclusion are the places where you can show that you have read the books, listened to class discussion and have understood something about the course. Use these paragraphs to answer the question, and wherever possible back up your opinions with references to authors, articles, books and class discussion that supports your arguments. Emphasize what you know about the subject and don't try to hide your knowledge gaps with "hot air." Make every word count.

5. Write in a Concise and Clear Style. Knowing the material is not enough, in order to do well on an essay exam you have to express yourself clearly. Use a simple sentence structure, rather than rambling, run-on sentences. Stick to terms that you are familiar with and can use properly rather than trying to use vocabulary that is unfamiliar. Do your best to make your essay readable and remember that the person grading the exam has to go through many essays besides yours.

6. Conclude clearly and strongly. Your closing paragraph should restate what you set out to do in the opening paragraph and it should summarize what you have said in the body of your essay. Conclude your essay with clarity and with confidence.

Essay writing is something that you will have to work on throughout your academic life. However, if you follow these tips you may end up with an essay writing skill that will not only help you during your school years, but will remain with you as a valuable asset during your entire life.
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