Engage with the question
When sitting an examination it is essential that you identify the key command words in the question (explain, describe, analyse, compare, etc.) and respond accordingly. Some students find it helpful to highlight key words and phrases in the question during examinations to ensure that they deal with each aspect of the question. Do not ignore any parts of the question even if you are uncertain of how to answer them; if you attempt an answer, at least you stand a chance of gaining some marks.
The key to writing a good essay lies in creating a detailed plan before you begin. Take time to think through your ideas and write a structured and logical plan featuring an argument with a clear list of main points that build towards a conclusion. It is best to jot down the references you wish to ...view middle of the document...
Incoherent, badly organised answers will score much lower than those which feature a clearly defined line of argument, or those which cover a clear number of topic areas in a logical way.
Always include a brief introductory paragraph that concisely outlines the line of argument you will follow and the points you will make. The introduction is designed to help the examiner follow your argument, and a clear, well-structured introduction will not only focus your own and the examiner’s mind, but vastly improve your marks. Many students find it hard to know where to begin, especially when writing an assignment essay. Remember, there is no need to write your introduction first, and if you find it easier to begin with the main body of your essay you can always come back to the introduction later.
Point, Evidence, Analysis or PEA is a technique whereby you can ensure that you begin every paragraph by stating your overall point, that you support this point with any relevant source materials you have studied, and then go on to further reinforce the point by analysing the material cited.
Your conclusion is the last thing the examiner will read, and it is vital that you leave him/her with a positive impression. Sum up the main points of your argument in a clear and concise way – this is not a time to introduce new ideas or repeat yourself, but simply to summarise your key point in an unambiguous and convincing fashion.
During examinations always leave 5 to 10 minutes spare to read over your work, as it is vital to avoid any unnecessary spelling/grammatical mistakes, and to ensure that all your arguments are clear and well structured. Check that all your paragraphs are direct and relevant, and that each point is sufficiently explained. When writing an assignment this final check is all the more important as you will have plenty of time to spot any referencing/spelling/grammatical errors, and you should read through your assignment more than once if possible.