Created by Ollie James Chapman over 6 years ago
What are the terms of the question? Decide what the key words of the question are, and underline them. Ensure that you have defined them - at least in your own mind. If you think they are problematic, define them at the beginning of your essay. Make sure your definition is sound: do not try to stretch the meaning of words too far, but do not just jump at the first possible idea.
What has been asked? Answer the question asked – not the one you would have liked to be asked. Avoid being irrelevant. Be sure that you show explicitly how your ideas relate to the question.
Close analysisIf you are asked to analyse an extract: Read it through two or three times On your second reading begin to underline key words and phrases Make a plan of your answer, ensuring that you cover every point asked in the question Concentrate on the passage and avoid irrelevant material.
Be willing to think Do not adopt the first possible approach. Try to range widely but keep to the terms of the question. Be willing to dispute the terms of the question if you are given the opportunity (for example, in questions that ask ‘how far…’, ‘to what extent’ or ‘do you think’?).
The examiner is going to be marking many similar essays. To send the examiner to sleep immediately: Just repeat the words of the question ‘This essay asks about … and I am going to …’) Give a hackneyed dictionary definition of one or more of the terms in the question. Instead, try to wake the examiner up. Try starting with: A short controversial statement A relevant quotation A striking piece of evidence. The main thing is to demonstrate that you have thought about the question.A strong ending is important in that it creates the final impression the examiner carries away from your answer: Save a bold statement until the end Or finish with a useful quotation.