Essay Exams Quick Tips
- Use an erasble pen. Remember: Neatness does count!
- Underline key words in your essay prompt — By doing so, you will be able to look back quickly and see if you are answering the question.
- Outline the answer before writing your essay — Use the inside cover of the blue book and write down the information you know and then number it in the order of writing your essay.
- Make sure you have an introductory paragraph — In this paragraph you want to make sure that you state the main point of your essay (i.e., your thesis statement).
- Make sure that your body paragraphs are cohesive — Each one should focus on and develop a single point that supports your thesis.
- Make sure you have a concluding paragraph — This paragraph may summarize your main points or offer some conclusions that you have reached through your analysis.
Helpful Terms To Know
Analyze – Break into separate parts and discuss or interpret.
Compare – Examine qualities or characteristics in order to discover similarities.
Contrast – Show differences between two or more ideas, topics, concepts, etc.
Criticize – Make judgments as to a given topic or evaluate its worth by backing up your statement with specific examples.
Define – Give a clear, specific meaning.
Describe – Give a detailed account. Include characteristics and qualities.
Diagram – Present a chart, plan, or graphic representation.
Discuss – Examine an issue and present or argue its pros and cons with details and examples.
Enumerate – List several ideas, aspects, events, reasons, etc.
Evaluate – Give your opinion or the opinion of an expert. Include both advantages and limitations.
Explain – Clarify and interpret material presented. State “who,” what,” “where,” and “why.”
Illustrate – Give concrete examples.
Interpret – Comment upon, give examples, and describe relationships.
Justify – Give reasons or prove.
List – Present an itemized series.
Outline – Give main points and necessary supplementary material, omitting details.
Prove – Support with facts or evidence.
Relate – Show how things interconnect.
State – Explain precisely.
Summarize – Give the main points or facts in condensed form.
Support – Back up statements with facts and proof.
Trace – Show the order or progress of events.
This list was excerpted from Newbury College’s Academic Support Services website.
Compare and contrast the differences between high school and college in terms of academics, career preparation, and social life.
- How are you going to organize the essay prior to writing it?
For additional strategies on essay exams, you may want to visit these websites: