Dow English

Take an interest in the future. You will spend the rest of your life there.

Writing Essays for Exams

What follow are suggested approaches on writing essays in examination situations:

You are advised to follow these steps in writing your answer.

  1. Quickly select the topic which seems best suited to the study and preparation you have done. Usually this will be obvious. If you have trouble choosing, jot down rough notes about each topic and see which one is easier to give information on.
  2. Check the question carefully, underlining key words. Be 100% sure that you know exactly what the examiner wants you to do. Many essays are failed because they are off the topic, although the candidate has shown wide knowledge of the book.
  3. Now, plan your essay. It may seem that time is very short, but a well-planned essay will be written much more easily than one where you are struggling to think of ideas as you write.
  4. Any essay topic should fall naturally into some kind of logical form or order. Try to allot one paragraph for each major point you want to make. For instance, if you are asked to show how Lennie's urge to pet things builds up from small things to bigger ones, a possible arrangement would be:
    • Previously he 'petted' a piece of velvet given to him by Aunt Clara
    • At the start he has a dead mouse in his pocket
    • Pets puppy which Slim gives him, and kills it. Dream of having rabbits to tend and pet.
    • 'Pets' Curley's wife, and accidentally kills her.
  5. As you plan, try to think of quotations that are relevant to your topic. Jot them down also. It doesn't matter if it is not a long or complete quote, but it should be fully relevant.
  6. You won't get marks for writing down all the quotations from the book that you have learnt - only those you use to back up some point that you are making.
  7. Almost as good as a quotation is a precise example from the text. The body of your essay should fall into the pattern of: Point - Evidence - Point - Evidence etc.
  8. If you can help it, never make an unsupported statement.