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Tips for Essay Exam

Essay exams are designed to test your ability to synthesise information and to organise your thoughts on paper. The following points are designed to help you prepare for essay style examinations.

Be familiar with the terminology used

Make sure you understand the question and are clear about what you are being asked to do. Terms like compare ,  trace ,  illustrate and  evaluate  all have different meanings and require a different style of answer.

Take time to read the exam paper thoroughly

Not reading questions properly is a common mistake made in essay exams. Therefore, make sure you read each question carefully and ensure you understand exactly what the question is asking.

If the question is ambiguous, unclear or too broad, clearly write your interpretation of the question before answering.

Plan before you write

Don't write your essay off the top of your head—the results will be disorganised and incoherent. Before you start writing, jot down your ideas and organise them into an essay plan.

  • You can write a plan on the exam paper itself or on any spare paper you have with you.
  • Begin by thinking about how you will answer the question.
  • Note the main information in point form. Doing this will also help you think about your answer.

Number your answers

If you have to write more than one essay, always indicate the number of the essay so it is clear which question you are answering.

Time yourself on each question

  • Allocate a set time to complete each question, for example, two essays in two hours = 1 hour per question.
  • Start with the easiest question and leave the hardest until last. This approach reduces anxiety and helps you think more clearly.

Answer in the first sentence and use the language of the question

Always answer the question in the introduction. To clearly signal your answer, use the language of the question.

For example:

Question: "How do the goals of liberal and socialist feminism differ?"

 You could begin your essay with:

 "The goals of liberal and socialist feminism differ in three main ways . . ."

This approach ensures you answer the question and makes the exam easier to mark. 

Make sure you structure your essay 

It should follow basic essay structure and include an introduction, body and conclusion.


An introduction should explicitly state your answer and the organisation of the essay. For example:

"The goals of liberal and socialist feminism differ in three main ways. The first is that . . . The second is . . . and the third main area of difference lies in the . . . This essay will argue that although these differences exist in approaches, the practices of liberal and socialist feminism have become very similar".

The body of your essay should include:

  • supporting material
  • appropriate details for your answer.

Make sure you structure the body of the essay as you indicated in your introduction. Use transitions to tie your ideas together. This will make your essay flow. If you feel you are losing the plot, go back and reread the question and your introduction. 


In your conclusion, re-answer the question and refer briefly to the main points in the body. Show HOW you have answered the question. For example: 

"In conclusion, it is clear that although liberal and socialist feminism originally held differing views on how to attain their goals, a realistic assessment now shows that their practice has become very similar. This is most clearly illustrated by . . . (give your best example and end the essay).

If you run out of time, answer in point form

Markers will often give you some marks for this.

Write as legibly as possible

  • Print your answers instead of using cursive writing.
  • Be aware of grammar, spelling and punctuation.
  • If you are using exam booklets, write on every second line.
  • If you have time at the end of the exam, proofread your essay for grammatical and spelling errors.
  • Leave space in between answers in case you have time to add any information you didn't include in your essays.

Exam Preparation Study Tips

  • Studying for exams
  • Multiple-choice exams
  • Essay exams
  • Open-book and take-home exams
  • Surviving exams
  • Past exam papers
  • ^ More support

News and notices

UNSW's Education Festival 2023 Published:  6 Nov 2023

Term 3, 2023 - Exam Period (T3) 24 Nov – 7 Dec 2023

Term 3, 2023 - Release of Results 14 Dec 2023, 12:00pm

Essay on Examination

Examination is a test of a person’s capacity, knowledge, and ability. It proves what standard of learning a person has acquired during a specific period of time in a specific syllabus. It is the most hated and most shunned things for some students who never like to indulge in it with pleasure until they have a charm of acquiring a degree. Otherwise, they compare it with a nightmare.

Yet examinations are not totally devoid of good. There is a saying about it.

Trials are a veritable curse but they have their use. (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

Education System and Exam

The system of education of mostly examination ridden which aims at the test of achievement and success. The examination is the center of studies and hard work. It is a motivating force to work.

Its importance and efficacy have been called in question. The most important point is that examinations are not the real test of knowledge and understanding. They are the test of ignorance or cramming. Still, we can say that examinations are necessary evil which cannot be avoided.

Uses of Examination

Difference between genius and dunce.

Examinations have many uses. They help us find the most efficient individual among many. we can distinguish between the scholar and the dullard, the genius and the dunce. In this way, they help us discriminate between the genuine gold and the sparkling brass.

Compel to work hard

Secondly, the examinations compel us to work hard. the careless students become serious near the examinations. They buy books they had no intention to buy and gird up their loins.

It is a fact that many students read for the sake of examinations. Thus, examinations are a very effective way of goading students to read.

Fitness for promotion to a higher grade/class

Thirdly, examinations are proof and guarantee of man’s efficiency. They provide us a proof of the fitness of the student for promotion to a higher grade/class. An employer can safely entrust a job to the degree holder. Without a degree, no one will higher his services. The factories, industries or mills cannot allow the person to perform a technical task without a specific degree/course.

Way to attain degrees / diplomas

Similarly, we do not ask everyone to prescribe medicine for us. Only the person holding a degree enjoys the right to operate upon our body. Hence, if we abolish examinations, we shall have to abolish degrees or diplomas.

Abuses of examinations

Examinations have certain abuses as well. Many students consider it a curse. They consider them to be a game of chance. The students are never sure of their success. There are always doubts in their minds. Success does not depend upon preparation. Even a student with selected studies may pass and the student with thorough preparation may fail.

Uncertainty of success

Some students keep studying the whole session but fail. On the other hand, many others who buy help books and cheap notes near the examinations and cram a few questions, pass. Such examinations are a curse for the shining students.

Test of memory

The examinations are a test of nerves. All examinations have a limit of time and place. A student is tested at a bad place and in a bad manner. The question arises how a student’s hard work and worth for a semester or full one year is judged in a short time. They are never a foolproof test of one’s ability. They are the test of one’s memory and writing/typing speed.

Use of unfair means

Some students try to use unfair means to pass out the examinations. The innocent, hardworking and intelligent remain in the background.

Final words

But in spite of all this, we cannot say that there should be no examinations. There must be some proper way of judging the real worth of the students. So proper changes are required to avoid the abuses and increase the usefulness of the examinations. The assessment criteria of the examinations must be improved in such a way that all the students can show their abilities and can pass them without any fear.

More on essays

  • Essay on Education
  • Purpose of Education (Essay)
  • Essay on my Best Teacher
  • My Best Friend Essay
  • Essay on My Hobby

The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Essay Exams

What this handout is about.

At some time in your undergraduate career, you’re going to have to write an essay exam. This thought can inspire a fair amount of fear: we struggle enough with essays when they aren’t timed events based on unknown questions. The goal of this handout is to give you some easy and effective strategies that will help you take control of the situation and do your best.

Why do instructors give essay exams?

Essay exams are a useful tool for finding out if you can sort through a large body of information, figure out what is important, and explain why it is important. Essay exams challenge you to come up with key course ideas and put them in your own words and to use the interpretive or analytical skills you’ve practiced in the course. Instructors want to see whether:

  • You understand concepts that provide the basis for the course
  • You can use those concepts to interpret specific materials
  • You can make connections, see relationships, draw comparisons and contrasts
  • You can synthesize diverse information in support of an original assertion
  • You can justify your own evaluations based on appropriate criteria
  • You can argue your own opinions with convincing evidence
  • You can think critically and analytically about a subject

What essay questions require

Exam questions can reach pretty far into the course materials, so you cannot hope to do well on them if you do not keep up with the readings and assignments from the beginning of the course. The most successful essay exam takers are prepared for anything reasonable, and they probably have some intelligent guesses about the content of the exam before they take it. How can you be a prepared exam taker? Try some of the following suggestions during the semester:

  • Do the reading as the syllabus dictates; keeping up with the reading while the related concepts are being discussed in class saves you double the effort later.
  • Go to lectures (and put away your phone, the newspaper, and that crossword puzzle!).
  • Take careful notes that you’ll understand months later. If this is not your strong suit or the conventions for a particular discipline are different from what you are used to, ask your TA or the Learning Center for advice.
  • Participate in your discussion sections; this will help you absorb the material better so you don’t have to study as hard.
  • Organize small study groups with classmates to explore and review course materials throughout the semester. Others will catch things you might miss even when paying attention. This is not cheating. As long as what you write on the essay is your own work, formulating ideas and sharing notes is okay. In fact, it is a big part of the learning process.
  • As an exam approaches, find out what you can about the form it will take. This will help you forecast the questions that will be on the exam, and prepare for them.

These suggestions will save you lots of time and misery later. Remember that you can’t cram weeks of information into a single day or night of study. So why put yourself in that position?

Now let’s focus on studying for the exam. You’ll notice the following suggestions are all based on organizing your study materials into manageable chunks of related material. If you have a plan of attack, you’ll feel more confident and your answers will be more clear. Here are some tips: 

  • Don’t just memorize aimlessly; clarify the important issues of the course and use these issues to focus your understanding of specific facts and particular readings.
  • Try to organize and prioritize the information into a thematic pattern. Look at what you’ve studied and find a way to put things into related groups. Find the fundamental ideas that have been emphasized throughout the course and organize your notes into broad categories. Think about how different categories relate to each other.
  • Find out what you don’t know, but need to know, by making up test questions and trying to answer them. Studying in groups helps as well.

Taking the exam

Read the exam carefully.

  • If you are given the entire exam at once and can determine your approach on your own, read the entire exam before you get started.
  • Look at how many points each part earns you, and find hints for how long your answers should be.
  • Figure out how much time you have and how best to use it. Write down the actual clock time that you expect to take in each section, and stick to it. This will help you avoid spending all your time on only one section. One strategy is to divide the available time according to percentage worth of the question. You don’t want to spend half of your time on something that is only worth one tenth of the total points.
  • As you read, make tentative choices of the questions you will answer (if you have a choice). Don’t just answer the first essay question you encounter. Instead, read through all of the options. Jot down really brief ideas for each question before deciding.
  • Remember that the easiest-looking question is not always as easy as it looks. Focus your attention on questions for which you can explain your answer most thoroughly, rather than settle on questions where you know the answer but can’t say why.

Analyze the questions

  • Decide what you are being asked to do. If you skim the question to find the main “topic” and then rush to grasp any related ideas you can recall, you may become flustered, lose concentration, and even go blank. Try looking closely at what the question is directing you to do, and try to understand the sort of writing that will be required.
  • Focus on what you do know about the question, not on what you don’t.
  • Look at the active verbs in the assignment—they tell you what you should be doing. We’ve included some of these below, with some suggestions on what they might mean. (For help with this sort of detective work, see the Writing Center handout titled Reading Assignments.)

Information words, such as who, what, when, where, how, and why ask you to demonstrate what you know about the subject. Information words may include:

  • define—give the subject’s meaning (according to someone or something). Sometimes you have to give more than one view on the subject’s meaning.
  • explain why/how—give reasons why or examples of how something happened.
  • illustrate—give descriptive examples of the subject and show how each is connected with the subject.
  • summarize—briefly cover the important ideas you learned about the subject.
  • trace—outline how something has changed or developed from an earlier time to its current form.
  • research—gather material from outside sources about the subject, often with the implication or requirement that you will analyze what you’ve found.

Relation words ask you to demonstrate how things are connected. Relation words may include:

  • compare—show how two or more things are similar (and, sometimes, different).
  • contrast—show how two or more things are dissimilar.
  • apply—use details that you’ve been given to demonstrate how an idea, theory, or concept works in a particular situation.
  • cause—show how one event or series of events made something else happen.
  • relate—show or describe the connections between things.

Interpretation words ask you to defend ideas of your own about the subject. Don’t see these words as requesting opinion alone (unless the assignment specifically says so), but as requiring opinion that is supported by concrete evidence. Remember examples, principles, definitions, or concepts from class or research and use them in your interpretation. Interpretation words may include:

  • prove, justify—give reasons or examples to demonstrate how or why something is the truth.
  • evaluate, respond, assess—state your opinion of the subject as good, bad, or some combination of the two, with examples and reasons (you may want to compare your subject to something else).
  • support—give reasons or evidence for something you believe (be sure to state clearly what it is that you believe).
  • synthesize—put two or more things together that haven’t been put together before; don’t just summarize one and then the other, and say that they are similar or different—you must provide a reason for putting them together (as opposed to compare and contrast—see above).
  • analyze—look closely at the components of something to figure out how it works, what it might mean, or why it is important.
  • argue—take a side and defend it (with proof) against the other side.

Plan your answers

Think about your time again. How much planning time you should take depends on how much time you have for each question and how many points each question is worth. Here are some general guidelines: 

  • For short-answer definitions and identifications, just take a few seconds. Skip over any you don’t recognize fairly quickly, and come back to them when another question jogs your memory.
  • For answers that require a paragraph or two, jot down several important ideas or specific examples that help to focus your thoughts.
  • For longer answers, you will need to develop a much more definite strategy of organization. You only have time for one draft, so allow a reasonable amount of time—as much as a quarter of the time you’ve allotted for the question—for making notes, determining a thesis, and developing an outline.
  • For questions with several parts (different requests or directions, a sequence of questions), make a list of the parts so that you do not miss or minimize one part. One way to be sure you answer them all is to number them in the question and in your outline.
  • You may have to try two or three outlines or clusters before you hit on a workable plan. But be realistic—you want a plan you can develop within the limited time allotted for your answer. Your outline will have to be selective—not everything you know, but what you know that you can state clearly and keep to the point in the time available.

Again, focus on what you do know about the question, not on what you don’t.

Writing your answers

As with planning, your strategy for writing depends on the length of your answer:

  • For short identifications and definitions, it is usually best to start with a general identifying statement and then move on to describe specific applications or explanations. Two sentences will almost always suffice, but make sure they are complete sentences. Find out whether the instructor wants definition alone, or definition and significance. Why is the identification term or object important?
  • For longer answers, begin by stating your forecasting statement or thesis clearly and explicitly. Strive for focus, simplicity, and clarity. In stating your point and developing your answers, you may want to use important course vocabulary words from the question. For example, if the question is, “How does wisteria function as a representation of memory in Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom?” you may want to use the words wisteria, representation, memory, and Faulkner) in your thesis statement and answer. Use these important words or concepts throughout the answer.
  • If you have devised a promising outline for your answer, then you will be able to forecast your overall plan and its subpoints in your opening sentence. Forecasting impresses readers and has the very practical advantage of making your answer easier to read. Also, if you don’t finish writing, it tells your reader what you would have said if you had finished (and may get you partial points).
  • You might want to use briefer paragraphs than you ordinarily do and signal clear relations between paragraphs with transition phrases or sentences.
  • As you move ahead with the writing, you may think of new subpoints or ideas to include in the essay. Stop briefly to make a note of these on your original outline. If they are most appropriately inserted in a section you’ve already written, write them neatly in the margin, at the top of the page, or on the last page, with arrows or marks to alert the reader to where they fit in your answer. Be as neat and clear as possible.
  • Don’t pad your answer with irrelevancies and repetitions just to fill up space. Within the time available, write a comprehensive, specific answer.
  • Watch the clock carefully to ensure that you do not spend too much time on one answer. You must be realistic about the time constraints of an essay exam. If you write one dazzling answer on an exam with three equally-weighted required questions, you earn only 33 points—not enough to pass at most colleges. This may seem unfair, but keep in mind that instructors plan exams to be reasonably comprehensive. They want you to write about the course materials in two or three or more ways, not just one way. Hint: if you finish a half-hour essay in 10 minutes, you may need to develop some of your ideas more fully.
  • If you run out of time when you are writing an answer, jot down the remaining main ideas from your outline, just to show that you know the material and with more time could have continued your exposition.
  • Double-space to leave room for additions, and strike through errors or changes with one straight line (avoid erasing or scribbling over). Keep things as clean as possible. You never know what will earn you partial credit.
  • Write legibly and proofread. Remember that your instructor will likely be reading a large pile of exams. The more difficult they are to read, the more exasperated the instructor might become. Your instructor also cannot give you credit for what they cannot understand. A few minutes of careful proofreading can improve your grade.

Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind in writing essay exams is that you have a limited amount of time and space in which to get across the knowledge you have acquired and your ability to use it. Essay exams are not the place to be subtle or vague. It’s okay to have an obvious structure, even the five-paragraph essay format you may have been taught in high school. Introduce your main idea, have several paragraphs of support—each with a single point defended by specific examples, and conclude with a restatement of your main point and its significance.

Some physiological tips

Just think—we expect athletes to practice constantly and use everything in their abilities and situations in order to achieve success. Yet, somehow many students are convinced that one day’s worth of studying, no sleep, and some well-placed compliments (“Gee, Dr. So-and-so, I really enjoyed your last lecture”) are good preparation for a test. Essay exams are like any other testing situation in life: you’ll do best if you are prepared for what is expected of you, have practiced doing it before, and have arrived in the best shape to do it. You may not want to believe this, but it’s true: a good night’s sleep and a relaxed mind and body can do as much or more for you as any last-minute cram session. Colleges abound with tales of woe about students who slept through exams because they stayed up all night, wrote an essay on the wrong topic, forgot everything they studied, or freaked out in the exam and hyperventilated. If you are rested, breathing normally, and have brought along some healthy, energy-boosting snacks that you can eat or drink quietly, you are in a much better position to do a good job on the test. You aren’t going to write a good essay on something you figured out at 4 a.m. that morning. If you prepare yourself well throughout the semester, you don’t risk your whole grade on an overloaded, undernourished brain.

If for some reason you get yourself into this situation, take a minute every once in a while during the test to breathe deeply, stretch, and clear your brain. You need to be especially aware of the likelihood of errors, so check your essays thoroughly before you hand them in to make sure they answer the right questions and don’t have big oversights or mistakes (like saying “Hitler” when you really mean “Churchill”).

If you tend to go blank during exams, try studying in the same classroom in which the test will be given. Some research suggests that people attach ideas to their surroundings, so it might jog your memory to see the same things you were looking at while you studied.

Try good luck charms. Bring in something you associate with success or the support of your loved ones, and use it as a psychological boost.

Take all of the time you’ve been allotted. Reread, rework, and rethink your answers if you have extra time at the end, rather than giving up and handing the exam in the minute you’ve written your last sentence. Use every advantage you are given.

Remember that instructors do not want to see you trip up—they want to see you do well. With this in mind, try to relax and just do the best you can. The more you panic, the more mistakes you are liable to make. Put the test in perspective: will you die from a poor performance? Will you lose all of your friends? Will your entire future be destroyed? Remember: it’s just a test.

Works consulted

We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.

Axelrod, Rise B., and Charles R. Cooper. 2016. The St. Martin’s Guide to Writing , 11th ed. Boston: Bedford/St Martin’s.

Fowler, Ramsay H., and Jane E. Aaron. 2016. The Little, Brown Handbook , 13th ed. Boston: Pearson.

Gefvert, Constance J. 1988. The Confident Writer: A Norton Handbook , 2nd ed. New York: W.W. Norton and Company.

Kirszner, Laurie G. 1988. Writing: A College Rhetoric , 2nd ed. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.

Lunsford, Andrea A. 2015. The St. Martin’s Handbook , 8th ed. Boston: Bedford/St Martin’s.

Woodman, Leonara, and Thomas P. Adler. 1988. The Writer’s Choices , 2nd ed. Northbrook, Illinois: Scott Foresman.

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Final Exams in a School Essay

Exams have been continually used as a tool in testing the student’s ability in each and every subject in various learning institutions throughout the world. Exams are more often used to measure the understanding of particular concepts after the completion of the normal classroom teaching of a particular course. There have been different reactions from the people when asked if exams are really efficient in the learning process. Some skeptics have argued that exams lead to rot learning. The importance of exams is that students of English are motivated to learn English as there are clear goals. This is so because after marking the exams the students are awarded some kind of certification that they have successfully done the English course.

An English exam is usually aimed at testing the four skills which are listening, reading, writing, and listening. The advantage of this is that the exams are usually founded on realistic communicative contexts. The exams are also similar to the activities of the students. Through these exams, the students are motivated to study English and practically use it correctly. Through these exams, learners not only study grammar in the classroom but also acquire practical skills for communication.

It is necessary to have a final exam in English because English is the formal language for teaching in most of the higher institutions of learning. It is important therefore to have final exams in English for it is the only sure way of preparing learners for University Education and college. It also prepares students who are willing to study abroad and maybe even work there.

In English exams, language use is tested in a meaningful and realistic way. This is a benefit for students who are studying English as a foreign language. Through this realistic testing by way of exams students are able to learn and understand English efficiently and gain proficiency in it. It has been known that the impact of exams on language students has been positive. Therefore, the learners studying English as a second language experience real communication in a foreign language (British Council Examinations Services, 2000).

For an employer to be able to determine the competency of a leaner there must be some kind of valid certification. This certification can only be awarded by way of examinations. These certificates are usually awarded to learners after successful completion of English subject or course and this certification is internationally recognized by universities and employers all over the world.

Struggling students in schools are encouraged to perform even better through exams. Some researches have shown that final English exams do indeed motivate the learners to continue studying it instead of dropping it as a subject or a course. By making the learners sit for a final exam they are not simply handed certification but they are made to have a basic understanding of the language skills that are essential for the outside world.

Through the final exam, the learners become capable of dealing with the challenges of life. They simply get the ability to survive in the real world. Devoid of final English exams the learners are approved diplomas and certificates without the necessary abilities and qualities to succeed being instilled in them.

Final English exams are used as a step to raising the student’s standards. Exams are therefore used as a form of measurement as well as a way of raising student achievement. By way of exams, the teachers who produce a significant increase in the student passage rates in English are rewarded through merit. Final exam in English has benefited struggling students as more attention and resources are devoted to them. It is only through exams that struggling students are identified.

The final English is made more important by the fact that all the other subjects are taught in the English language. It is therefore important that the learners are examined to make them proficient in English which shall translate to them grasping the concepts in the other subjects. By testing the learners through a final exam in English the school administration can be able to identify a class of students that is at risk of failing thereby provide extra tutoring and counseling to this class of students. This, therefore, prevents any future failure in the English course or subject.

In a nutshell, this paper was about the importance of final exams in a school. There is a wide range of benefits both to the teachers and the learners. The school administration can also identify areas of weakness in English teaching and do something about it.

Career Success Through UK Qualification , British Council 2008. Web.

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Purdue Online Writing Lab Purdue OWL® College of Liberal Arts

Writing Essays for Exams

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While most OWL resources recommend a longer writing process (start early, revise often, conduct thorough research, etc.), sometimes you just have to write quickly in test situations. However, these exam essays can be no less important pieces of writing than research papers because they can influence final grades for courses, and/or they can mean the difference between getting into an academic program (GED, SAT, GRE). To that end, this resource will help you prepare and write essays for exams.

What is a well written answer to an essay question?

Well Focused

Be sure to answer the question completely, that is, answer all parts of the question. Avoid "padding." A lot of rambling and ranting is a sure sign that the writer doesn't really know what the right answer is and hopes that somehow, something in that overgrown jungle of words was the correct answer.

Well Organized

Don't write in a haphazard "think-as-you-go" manner. Do some planning and be sure that what you write has a clearly marked introduction which both states the point(s) you are going to make and also, if possible, how you are going to proceed. In addition, the essay should have a clearly indicated conclusion which summarizes the material covered and emphasizes your thesis or main point.

Well Supported

Do not just assert something is true, prove it. What facts, figures, examples, tests, etc. prove your point? In many cases, the difference between an A and a B as a grade is due to the effective use of supporting evidence.

Well Packaged

People who do not use conventions of language are thought of by their readers as less competent and less educated. If you need help with these or other writing skills, come to the Writing Lab

How do you write an effective essay exam?

  • Read through all the questions carefully.
  • Budget your time and decide which question(s) you will answer first.
  • Underline the key word(s) which tell you what to do for each question.
  • Choose an organizational pattern appropriate for each key word and plan your answers on scratch paper or in the margins.
  • Write your answers as quickly and as legibly as you can; do not take the time to recopy.
  • Begin each answer with one or two sentence thesis which summarizes your answer. If possible, phrase the statement so that it rephrases the question's essential terms into a statement (which therefore directly answers the essay question).
  • Support your thesis with specific references to the material you have studied.
  • Proofread your answer and correct errors in spelling and mechanics.

Specific organizational patterns and "key words"

Most essay questions will have one or more "key words" that indicate which organizational pattern you should use in your answer. The six most common organizational patterns for essay exams are definition, analysis, cause and effect, comparison/contrast, process analysis, and thesis-support.

Typical questions

  • "Define X."
  • "What is an X?"
  • "Choose N terms from the following list and define them."

Q: "What is a fanzine?"

A: A fanzine is a magazine written, mimeographed, and distributed by and for science fiction or comic strip enthusiasts.

Avoid constructions such as "An encounter group is where ..." and "General semantics is when ... ."

  • State the term to be defined.
  • State the class of objects or concepts to which the term belongs.
  • Differentiate the term from other members of the class by listing the term's distinguishing characteristics.

Tools you can use

  • Details which describe the term
  • Examples and incidents
  • Comparisons to familiar terms
  • Negation to state what the term is not
  • Classification (i.e., break it down into parts)
  • Examination of origins or causes
  • Examination of results, effects, or uses

Analysis involves breaking something down into its components and discovering the parts that make up the whole.

  • "Analyze X."
  • "What are the components of X?"
  • "What are the five different kinds of X?"
  • "Discuss the different types of X."

Q: "Discuss the different services a junior college offers a community."

A: Thesis: A junior college offers the community at least three main types of educational services: vocational education for young people, continuing education for older people, and personal development for all individuals.

Outline for supporting details and examples. For example, if you were answering the example question, an outline might include:

  • Vocational education
  • Continuing education
  • Personal development

Write the essay, describing each part or component and making transitions between each of your descriptions. Some useful transition words include:

  • first, second, third, etc.
  • in addition

Conclude the essay by emphasizing how each part you have described makes up the whole you have been asked to analyze.

Cause and Effect

Cause and effect involves tracing probable or known effects of a certain cause or examining one or more effects and discussing the reasonable or known cause(s).

Typical questions:

  • "What are the causes of X?"
  • "What led to X?"
  • "Why did X occur?"
  • "Why does X happen?"
  • "What would be the effects of X?"

Q: "Define recession and discuss the probable effects a recession would have on today's society."

A: Thesis: A recession, which is a nationwide lull in business activity, would be detrimental to society in the following ways: it would .......A......., it would .......B......., and it would .......C....... .

The rest of the answer would explain, in some detail, the three effects: A, B, and C.

Useful transition words:

  • consequently
  • for this reason
  • as a result


  • "How does X differ from Y?"
  • "Compare X and Y."
  • "What are the advantages and disadvantages of X and Y?"

Q: "Which would you rather own—a compact car or a full-sized car?"

A: Thesis: I would own a compact car rather than a full-sized car for the following reasons: .......A......., .......B......., .......C......., and .......D....... .

Two patterns of development:

  • Full-sized car


  • Compact car

Useful transition words

  • on the other hand
  • unlike A, B ...
  • in the same way
  • while both A and B are ..., only B ..
  • nevertheless
  • on the contrary
  • while A is ..., B is ...
  • "Describe how X is accomplished."
  • "List the steps involved in X."
  • "Explain what happened in X."
  • "What is the procedure involved in X?"

Process (sometimes called process analysis)

This involves giving directions or telling the reader how to do something. It may involve discussing some complex procedure as a series of discrete steps. The organization is almost always chronological.

Q: "According to Richard Bolles' What Color Is Your Parachute?, what is the best procedure for finding a job?"

A: In What Color Is Your Parachute?, Richard Bolles lists seven steps that all job-hunters should follow: .....A....., .....B....., .....C....., .....D....., .....E....., .....F....., and .....G..... .

The remainder of the answer should discuss each of these seven steps in some detail.

  • following this
  • after, afterwards, after this
  • subsequently
  • simultaneously, concurrently

Thesis and Support

  • "Discuss X."
  • "A noted authority has said X. Do you agree or disagree?"
  • "Defend or refute X."
  • "Do you think that X is valid? Defend your position."

Thesis and support involves stating a clearly worded opinion or interpretation and then defending it with all the data, examples, facts, and so on that you can draw from the material you have studied.

Q: "Despite criticism, television is useful because it aids in the socializing process of our children."

A: Television hinders rather than helps in the socializing process of our children because .......A......., .......B......., and .......C....... .

The rest of the answer is devoted to developing arguments A, B, and C.

  • it follows that

A. Which of the following two answers is the better one? Why?

Question: Discuss the contribution of William Morris to book design, using as an example his edition of the works of Chaucer.

a. William Morris's Chaucer was his masterpiece. It shows his interest in the Middle Ages. The type is based on medieval manuscript writing, and the decoration around the edges of the pages is like that used in medieval books. The large initial letters are typical of medieval design. Those letters were printed from woodcuts, which was the medieval way of printing. The illustrations were by Burn-Jones, one of the best artists in England at the time. Morris was able to get the most competent people to help him because he was so famous as a poet and a designer (the Morris chair) and wallpaper and other decorative items for the home. He designed the furnishings for his own home, which was widely admired among the sort of people he associated with. In this way he started the arts and crafts movement.

b. Morris's contribution to book design was to approach the problem as an artist or fine craftsman, rather than a mere printer who reproduced texts. He wanted to raise the standards of printing, which had fallen to a low point, by showing that truly beautiful books could be produced. His Chaucer was designed as a unified work of art or high craft. Since Chaucer lived in the Middle Ages, Morris decided to design a new type based on medieval script and to imitate the format of a medieval manuscript. This involved elaborate letters and large initials at the beginnings of verses, as well as wide borders of intertwined vines with leaves, fruit, and flowers in strong colors. The effect was so unusual that the book caused great excitement and inspired other printers to design beautiful rather than purely utilitarian books.

From James M. McCrimmon, Writing with a Purpose , 7th ed. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1980), pp. 261-263.

B. How would you plan the structure of the answers to these essay exam questions?

1. Was the X Act a continuation of earlier government policies or did it represent a departure from prior philosophies?

2. What seems to be the source of aggression in human beings? What can be done to lower the level of aggression in our society?

3. Choose one character from Novel X and, with specific references to the work, show how he or she functions as an "existential hero."

4. Define briefly the systems approach to business management. Illustrate how this differs from the traditional approach.

5. What is the cosmological argument? Does it prove that God exists?

6. Civil War historian Andy Bellum once wrote, "Blahblahblah blahed a blahblah, but of course if blahblah blahblahblahed the blah, then blahblahs are not blah but blahblah." To what extent and in what ways is the statement true? How is it false?

For more information on writing exam essays for the GED, please visit our Engagement area and go to the Community Writing and Education Station (CWEST) resources.

Essay on the Importance of Exams | More Than Just a Grade | Benefits | Dispelling Myths

Essay on the Importance of Exams edumantra.net

Essay on the Importance of Exams – Introduction

Exams have always been a topic of discussion, with some people hating them and others loving them. But the fact remains that exams are an inevitable part of our academic lives. They test us on what we have learned throughout the year or semester and help us gauge our understanding of the subject matter. In this article, we will deeply understand importance of exams. When you make a mindset that something is not good you start hating. By understanding the importance of examination through this long and well researched essay you will start appreciating exams. Let’s understand topic on exam the, importance in shaping a student’s life beyond just earning good grades. Exams can be stressful, nerve-wracking, and sometimes even terrifying for students. However, they serve a vital purpose in preparing young minds for their future endeavours.

What are Exams?

Exams are a common practice in the educational system and are used to measure a student’s knowledge, understanding, and ability. They can come in various forms such as multiple-choice exams, essay exams, practical exams, or oral exams. Exams provide valuable feedback for both teachers and students regarding what has been learned and areas that need improvement. Additionally, they help students develop important study habits such as time management skills and critical thinking abilities. While some individuals argue that standardized testing should be abandoned altogether due to its focus on memorization rather than true comprehension of material, others believe it is necessary for accountability purposes within education systems worldwide. Despite differing opinions about how effective they truly are at measuring learning outcomes objectively; there is no denying that examinations remain an integral part of modern-day education systems across the globe.

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Types of Exams

Exams are a way to assess the knowledge and skills of students. There are various types of exams that students encounter throughout their academic life. Let’s take a look at some common types:

1.Written exams: These are the most common type of exams where students have to answer questions on paper. 2.Oral exams: In this type, the examiner asks questions verbally and expects answers from the student verbally. 3.Practical exams: This type is more focused on practical application rather than theoretical knowledge. 4.Multiple choice tests: These tests offer multiple options for each question, and the student has to choose the correct one(s). 5.Open-book exams: In this format, students can refer to books or notes while answering exam questions. 6.Online assessments: With advancements in technology, online assessments have become popular where students take tests through digital platforms.

Each exam type has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, but they all aim towards assessing a student’s knowledge level accurately.

Types of Exams edumantra.net

Some Benefits of Exams

Exams are a crucial part of the academic journey. They have been designed to assess students’ knowledge and skills in various subjects, providing them with an opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned. Exams come in various forms, from multiple-choice questions to essays.

Identifying Strengths and Weaknesses through Exams

One important aspect of exams is that they help students identify their strengths and weaknesses. By taking exams, students can evaluate their understanding of different concepts and areas where they need improvement. This information can then be used for further study or revision.

Measurement of Performance

Exams also serve as an objective measure of a student’s performance since it is based on specific criteria that are set beforehand. The grading system provides a clear indication of how well the student has done, which can motivate them to work harder if necessary.

Some Benefits of Exams edumantra.net

Enhancing Learning and Retention

Exams provide an opportunity for students to engage in focused study and revision. As they prepare for exams, students review the material covered in class, reinforcing their learning and enhancing retention. The process of studying for exams helps consolidate knowledge, making it more likely to be retained in the long term.

Promoting Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving Skills

Exams often require students to think critically, analyze information, and apply their knowledge to solve problems or answer questions. By facing these intellectual challenges, students develop and sharpen their critical thinking and problem-solving skills, which are invaluable in real-world situations beyond the academic realm.

Encouraging Time Management and Discipline

Exams impose a deadline and require students to manage their time effectively. The preparation process involves creating study schedules, setting priorities, and adhering to a disciplined routine. Through exams, students learn valuable time management skills that can benefit them in their future academic and professional endeavors.

Assessing Overall Understanding and Mastery

Exams provide a comprehensive assessment of students’ overall understanding and mastery of a subject. They test students’ ability to apply concepts, analyze information, and present their knowledge effectively. By evaluating performance across different topics or modules, exams offer a holistic view of a student’s grasp of the subject matter.

Building Confidence and Self-Evaluation

Exams offer an opportunity for students to showcase their knowledge and skills. Successfully completing exams and achieving good grades can boost students’ confidence in their abilities. Moreover, exams allow students to evaluate their own progress, identifying areas of strength and areas that need improvement, which empowers them to take proactive steps towards self-improvement.

Certification and Qualification through Exams

Moreover, examinations provide certification for degrees or qualifications obtained by learners after fulfilling specific requirements such as passing certain tests or meeting other standards like minimum attendance hours and so forth.

The Integral Role of Exams in Academic Careers

Exams play an integral role in shaping the academic careers of students worldwide. While some may view them negatively because they induce stress among many individuals, this testing method has proven time-tested benefits that should not be overlooked nor underestimated by any means whatsoever!

Why Exams Are More Than Just a Grade

Exams have been an integral part of the education system for centuries. However, they are often seen as just a means to attain grades and nothing more. In reality, exams serve many other purposes besides grading students. Exams provide an opportunity for students to showcase their knowledge and skills in a competitive environment. This can help them build confidence and develop better study habits that will benefit them throughout their lives. Moreover, taking exams helps students learn how to handle pressure and work efficiently under tight deadlines. These skills are valuable not only in academics but also in professional settings. Furthermore, the feedback received from exam results allows both teachers and students to identify areas where further improvement is required. This enables educators to focus on individual needs while ensuring that the curriculum remains relevant. Exams serve multiple roles beyond just assigning grades. They aid in developing essential life skills such as time management, stress management, critical thinking ability while providing valuable feedback to improve teaching methods and student performance alike.

Common Myths about Exams

There are a lot of myths surrounding exams that have been passed down from generation to generation. Let’s debunk some of the most common ones:

Common Myths about Exams edumantra.net

Myth #1: Exams only measure memorization skills

While it is true that some exams require memorization, many also test critical thinking and problem-solving skills. For example, essay-based exams often ask students to analyze and synthesize information, rather than just regurgitate facts. But it is only a myth because there are different types of exams and they help you to evaluate on a number of parameters.

Myth #2: Good grades always equal success later in life

While good grades can certainly open doors for students, but they aren’t actually the only factor in determining future success. Employers often look for well-rounded candidates with strong communication and interpersonal skills, as well as experience outside of the classroom.

Myth #3: Exam performance is solely determined by intelligence

Intelligence may play a role in exam performance, but factors such as preparation, study habits, and test-taking strategies can also significantly impact results. By dispelling these common myths about exams, we can better understand their true purpose and value in education.

How exams help students

Exams are not just a tool to evaluate a student’s knowledge but also help students develop important skills that will benefit them beyond the classroom. One of the main ways in which exams help students is by teaching them time management skills. Preparing for an exam requires planning and prioritizing tasks, which can be applied to other areas of life. Another way in which exams aid students is by improving their memory retention capacity. When preparing for an exam, students need to recall and retain information for longer periods, making it easier for them to remember new concepts in the future. Moreover, exams teach resilience and perseverance as they require hard work, dedication, and practice over extended periods of time. This develops mental toughness that helps individuals face challenges with greater confidence. Although many people may view exams negatively or only as a means of assessing academic performance; however they play significant roles in developing essential skill sets that will prove invaluable throughout one’s lifetime.

Tips to do great in Exams-

Acing an exam can be a challenging task for many students, but with the right approach and preparation, it is definitely achievable. Here are some tips to help you ace your next exam:

Tips to do great in Exams edumantra.net

Understanding the Exam Type and Tailoring Your Approach

Start by understanding what type of exam you will be taking. Different types of exams require different approaches and techniques. For example, essay-based exams require more critical thinking skills while multiple-choice exams require strong memorization skills.

Creating a Personalized Study Plan

Create a study plan that works best for you based on your learning style and schedule. This may include breaking down topics into smaller chunks or creating flashcards to aid in memorization

Utilizing Practice Resources for Familiarity

Practice makes perfect! Take advantage of past papers or online resources available to familiarize yourself with the format and types of questions that may appear on the exam.

Ensuring Preparedness with Necessary Materials

Ensure that you have all necessary materials such as calculators or dictionaries before entering the examination room.

Maintaining Calm and Effective Time Management

Stay calm during the exam and prioritize questions accordingly. It’s important not to get stuck on one question too long as this could eat up valuable time needed to answer other questions. With these tips in mind, anyone can ace their next exam with ease!

Effective Notetaking for Comprehensive Understanding

During your study sessions, engage in active notetaking to enhance comprehension and retention. Summarize key concepts, highlight important details, and organize your notes in a way that makes it easier for you to review and understand the material later on.

Seek Clarification and Assistance When Needed

If you encounter any challenges or have doubts about certain topics, don’t hesitate to seek clarification from your instructors or peers. Asking questions and seeking assistance will help you gain a clearer understanding of the subject matter and address any areas of confusion.

Practice Time Management During Study Sessions

Implementing good time management skills while studying is crucial. Break down your study time into manageable chunks, taking short breaks in between to rest and recharge. This approach helps maintain focus and prevents burnout, ensuring productive and efficient study sessions.

Use Visualization Techniques for Memorization

Visualize complex concepts or information by creating diagrams, flowcharts, or mind maps. Visual representations can aid in understanding relationships between ideas and enhance memory recall during the exam.

Employ Active Learning Strategies

Engage in active learning techniques such as discussing concepts with study partners, teaching the material to someone else, or participating in study groups. Active learning promotes deeper understanding and retention of information by actively involving you in the learning process.

Practice Self-Care and Well-Being

Remember to take care of yourself physically and mentally during the exam preparation period. Get enough sleep, eat nutritious meals, and engage in activities that help you relax and manage stress. Taking care of your well-being will contribute to a clear and focused mind during the exam. By incorporating these additional tips into your exam preparation strategy, you’ll be better equipped to excel and perform your best when the exam day arrives.

Exams have always been an integral part of the education system. They provide students with a chance to showcase their knowledge and skills, while also helping them develop discipline and study habits that will serve them well in their future careers. Despite common myths about exams being stressful or harmful, they are ultimately beneficial for both students and teachers. Exams help educators assess student progress, identify areas for improvement, and tailor lessons accordingly. By understanding the importance of exams, students can approach them with confidence rather than fear. By developing effective study habits leading up to exam day and utilizing test-taking strategies during the exam itself, they can achieve greater success not only on tests but in their overall academic performance. Exams play a vital role in education by providing a means of assessment for both students and teachers alike. While they may be challenging at times, they ultimately serve as valuable learning experiences that prepare individuals for success in their chosen fields. So let’s embrace the opportunities presented by examinations!

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Writing essays in exams

The best way to do well in essay exams is to prepare and practice. This resource provides tips and strategies to help you revise, organise your thoughts and write clearly.

How should I prepare?

Find out what you will be expected to do in the exam..

  • How many essays will you have to write?
  • How many marks will each one be worth?
  • Will you have some choice or will you have to write on any and all topics covered by the subject?
  • Will you be able to refer to notes or materials (open book)?
  • Where will you sit the exam (at home or in an exam hall)?
  • How long will you have to complete the exam?

Review your notes

Systematically review your notes and course material. As with any revision, your aim is to identify key topics, concepts and major theories or approaches.

Essays often ask you to integrate concepts from different topics and weeks, so try to take a holistic view and make connections as you review.

Review old exam papers

You can use past exam papers to:

  • test yourself and monitor your progress.
  • increase your knowledge and understanding of certain topics.
  • help you to practise the types of questions you are going to encounter.
  • familiarise yourself with the format of the exam itself.

Analyse the kinds of questions asked. Note the ‘direction’ words used, such as, ‘compare and contrast’, ‘discuss’, ‘evaluate’, ‘illustrate’.

Draft responses for the question you would find easiest and then the question you would find most difficult. This will help you to identify where your knowledge is satisfactory, incomplete or inadequate.

Look at the marks allocated to a question. How many points might you need to make to earn that many marks? Is broad coverage or depth expected?

Example of question requiring breadth :

‘Discuss the ten factors that contribute to heart disease’ - 30 marks.

Example of question requiring depth :

‘Discuss in detail two of the causes of greenhouse gas production and how they might be eliminated’ - 30 marks.

Identify possible exam topics

Looking at both your notes from this year and the past exam papers, try to anticipate the topics you will be asked to write on and possible questions.

This is a great activity to do with peers in study groups – together you’ll come up with a broader range of questions and approaches. If you work with others, don’t write out full answers and memorise them (your examiners will notice identical responses), instead jot down key points or ideas in your own words.

It won’t matter if you don’t guess exactly the question that appears in the exam. This gives your mind practice at imagining how the material could be organised in different ways to answer different questions.

What should I do during the exam?

Read all the questions carefully.

If you have a choice, identify the ones you might attempt. Re-read those and make a final selection.

Make some brief notes next to each of the questions you will attempt. Consider how you will respond to the question, the subject area/s you will be dealing with, and any main points or initial thoughts. This will give you something to start from, or build on, later in the exam when you are getting tired.

Calculate how much time you can spend on a question, relative to its mark value.

Start with the easiest task

If you have to write a few essays do the easiest one first.  If it’s just one essay, then begin with a section you’re comfortable with. This will help you to settle into the exam and develop your confidence.

Write a brief essay plan

Taing time to write a plan helps you to organise your thoughts and write efficiently. You don't have time for significant editing in an exam, so you want to get it right first time. Consider the following:

  • What’s your argument regarding the essay question?
  • How many paragraphs do you expect to write?
  • What will be the topic of each paragraph?
  • What supporting evidence or information will you provide for each major point you make?
  • What is the most logical order in which to make your points so they develop and support your argument?

Write clearly

If you need to write your essay by hand, practice writing for extended periods of time. Handwriting for more than a few minutes can become uncomfortable if you’re used to typing everything and this might mean you can’t write everything you want, or worse, your examiner can’t read your writing.

Remember that the examiner will have just a few minutes to read and mark your response; don’t make their job harder.

Try to use the wording of the question in your first sentence

This helps you to stay on task and answer the question directly.

Use transition or connecting words

This will help organise your ideas and to make it easier for the examiner to follow your arguments.

For example: Firstly, … Secondly, …; In contrast to…; In addition…; As a result…

For example:

Question: ‘Compare the main features of orthogonal and oblique cutting processes ’.

Response : ‘ The main features of orthogonal and oblique cutting processes [topic] differ in three main ways. First , [connecting] …’

Include an introduction and conclusion

While introductions and conclusions can be quite basic in exam essays, they are worth including for the guidance they can provide you as a writer and especially for the examiner. Make them as clear and succinct as possible.

Include clear signal language: ‘This essay will argue that …’; ‘In conclusion, …’; ‘To sum up…’

Leave time to check your work

Check the logical flow, clarity of ideas and, most importantly, re-read the question and check that you have answered all parts of it . If you haven’t answered the question directly, you won't get the marks!

Thinking critically by connecting and evaluating ideas as you revise will help you to prepare for essay exams. While examiners do expect you to demonstrate your knowledge of the subject in your essay, they are more interested in your ability to produce a succinct response to the question in the form of a reasoned and well-organised argument.

Two people looking over study materials

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