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Writing Essays

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Writing an essay can be a daunting prospect, especially under exam conditions. Essays are a great way though to get a lot of marks under your belt. It's worth considering that an essay contains your own opinion, and there is no single correct answer which has to be given. Typically, essays are marked positively, which means that you get a mark for each relevant and correct point you include, so getting near full marks isn't impossible!

How To Revise For Essay Exams

Past papers are very useful when it comes to essay writing revision. You can see what the questions will be like so you won't be surprised at what's thrown at you in the real exams!

If you are given exam related material prior to sitting the exam (e.g. pre-release booklets), use your reading skills to read it properly!

Writing a preliminary outline for an essay will make writing the essay much easier. Preparing an outline before you start writing the essay should only take 10 minutes or less. Practice doing outlines for essays so that you aren't attempting it for the first time in the exam hall!

Sticking to the time limits within an exam involving essays can be quite tricky so it's important that you prepare well so that you can use your time most effectively. If you find it particularly hard to write a good outline within 10 minutes for example focus on this. Remember, practice makes perfect!

Getting someone else to read through some of the essays you have written can help you identify certain problems that you may not have noticed without someone else pointing them out.

Pleasing The Examiners

Of course, all examiners are different, but they all look out for the same fundamental points in your essays. The following points should help you get higher marks in your essays:

  • Show that you understand the question. You can do this simply by answering it, and not going off at a tangent bringing out irrelevant points.
  • Where it is appropriate you should show evidence of analysing, comparing, contrasting and evaluating the question and material.
  • Show that you've put thought into your answer. Include as much background knowledge as you can without going over the top. Always keep it relevant to the question!
  • Back up the opinion you've taken with clear reasoning and evaluation.
  • Don't write more than you have to. Get the main points down without waffling! This will save you time as well as helping the examiners understand your essay. If they find your essay clear and concise, they'll be inclined to give you more marks!
  • Avoid bad spelling and grammar. Learn to check your work for errors as you go along as well as at the end.

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