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Exams are one of the reasons some students quit school. They are scary! I have yet to meet a person who is not anxious or worried about exams. They may put on a brave face but deep inside, everyone is afraid to fail. Exams require you to remember and write so much, and sometimes it’s hard to know where exactly to start or what to do. Essays are specifically difficult and require one to have the necessary skills required when writing an essay. They are common in subjects like literature, history, sociology, political science, philosophy, and many others.
However, you can survive by following these guidelines:
It might be a great thing to do if you have a fantastic memory, but retaining lots of information word for word might be difficult for most of us. It would be bad, too, if the essay you memorized is not part of the essay questions. Panic! What I’d advise you to do is learn what you need for the essays. Read and revise thoroughly. Gather all the information you need for the subject, and you will be good to go.
After you get your question paper (and the panic phase is gone), read carefully through the entire paper. Read all the questions provided on the paper while noting down (if possible) what order you will follow when answering them. Start answering from the one you find simplest (the one you have enough information on). You don’t have to start from the first question on your paper unless it’s the simplest. Planning how you will answer the questions gives you a feeling of control, and you can remain calm throughout the exam. Plan your time too so that you don’t spend more time on one question. You don’t have to write everything you know on a topic; just pick out what is necessary and relates to the question. Your aim should be to get the best mark you can on the whole paper and not only on one question.
Before you start answering a question, create an outline of the points you will provide. Outlining will save you time and will make the answer easier to write down. When you have an outline, the hassles of having to rewrite an answer are ruled out. As you jot down the points, you are able to think about the question critically and provide the best answers. Crossing out an answer or a whole paragraph shows you are not well prepared, and that’s not what you want the instructor to conclude. The outline or marginal notes will, in fact, impress him. However, do not write them so as to impress him; write them as a guide.
If a question presents problems in the middle of answering it, leave it and move on to the next. Time is important here, and it’s not going to work out any better for you if you spend half the time on one question. After you have finished all the other questions, get back to it, and you will be surprised at how clearer it becomes then.
Knowing what the instructor expects of you from a question is very crucial. You may be asked to analyze, explain, define, compare, contrast, or illustrate the subject or topic of a question. Focus on answering the question with the right mindset. To understand what these words and more mean and what is expected of you, read this article: Understanding What Is Expected on an Assignment.
When answering an essay question, make sure to include all key elements required in an essay.
Go through the answer after completion and get rid of all grammatical mistakes, spelling mistakes, stylistic errors, and punctuation mistakes. Make sure your work is neat and legible too.
Your essay should be developed sufficiently and include an effective introduction paragraph, a body, and a conclusion. Make the essay brief and concise. Write it for the right audience and provide sufficient and relevant support. Try to manage your time properly. In case you run out of time, provide bullet points, and you can get points for knowing what answers were required. In case you still have two questions unanswered, provide the first half of both. That way, you won’t leave any questions unanswered, and you will get marks for the first half of each question.
All the best in your exams!
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