A guide to understanding the most common essay questions, and how to answer them

A guide to understanding the most common essay questions, and how to answer them

Students face many challenges but essay-based exams can be very tough. We offer some tips on answering some of the most common exam questions

Have you ever been confused about how to answer an essay question? What exactly does “assess” mean? Can you really “compare and contrast” apples and oranges? Here’s a handy guide to tackling the most complex essay questions you’ll ever see.

Summarise

In a nutshell, “summarising” is what this paragraph  is doing right now. If an exam question asks you to “summarise” something, you have to express the most important facts or ideas about something or someone in a short and clear form. For example, if the question asks you to “summarise the debate over gun control”, they’re asking you to state in a few simple sentences or paragraphs what people think about the issue and the arguments for and against it.

Contrast

It is easy to confuse the words “contrast” and “compare” – both mean to take two or more things and point out some kind of relationship – for example, similarities or differences – between them. While most questions might ask you to “compare and contrast”, you’re in luck if they only use one of the words. If you see the word “contrast” in a question, it probably wants you to examine the differences between two or more things.

7 tips to help you proofread your essay like a pro: check these out before you hand it in

Illustrate

A question with the word “illustrate” is probably asking you to not only explain something, but also to use examples to show the meaning or truth of it more clearly.

Justify

This word should immediately tell you that your answer is meant to be argumentative. “Justify” means to attempt to use arguments and evidence to show that something is reasonable, right, or true. You’re not merely writing down the ideas; you’re actively commenting on them and backing up your comments with evidence.

State

Unlike the words “summarise” or “clarify”, “state” simply asks you to express information clearly and carefully. In other words, it is usually a short answer which may include important facts and other ideas.

5 tips to writing an essay that deserves an A

Assess

In an exam question that deals with many different ideas or concepts, “assess” calls for the test-taker to not only write about them, but also to compare them against each other using examples and other methods.

Elaborate

This is the opposite of “assess”; it asks you to add more information or explain something that you have said instead of analysing things and explaining what they are.

To what extent

Even to many experienced test-takers, “to what extent” is a scary phrase. At least, the question asks you to summarise or clarify, and at most, you have to analyse a series of ideas or different pieces of information.

HK's IB top scorers share their study tips

Actually, “to what extent” asks you to take the middle road, without resorting to extreme descriptions or exaggerated conclusions. In answering such a question, students can show the depth of their knowledge on the given subject. They’ll be expected to describe something fully, without cherry-picking evidence.

Clarify

If you see this word in a question, it’s usually asking you to make something clear or easier to understand by giving more details or a simpler explanation. But in an essay question, it is similar to “explain”, which means including other information that could shed more light on the topic.

Edited by M. J. Premaratne

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Here’s the write way

Comments

To post comments please
register or

36 Comments

Cody Tritter

06:49am

Thanks for this awesome article! Can we share a portion of this in our latest Calgary Real Estate blog that is geared towards Calgary university students? Seen on https://****repyyc.com as well as https://****calgaryluxuryrealestate.com

Jessica Deren

23:34pm

Great article to understand the basics of essay. If you don't worry, you can write best essay. But don't push yourself hard. You can give a break and let's play wow wow wubbzy games in http://****freeplaygames.net/wowwowwubbzygames.htm

French Bulldog

05:08am

French Bulldog is the most adorable dog and the most loyal companion you may ever get. They demand only love and they have plenty to give to you! Frenchies rock!

You can check us at frenchieholics.com we have interesting articles and accessories dedicated to our lovely breed – French Bulldog.

Thank you!
https://****frenchieholics.com/
https://****frenchieholics.com/blog/

Pages