SOC100H5 – Writing an Essay Test
1) Essay tests are NOT “essays” in the traditional sense of the word. They are
simply longer written prose responses to questions that require longer answers.
So, you do NOT need a thesis, an introduction or conclusion.
2) What you DO need to do is ANSWER THE QUESTION – and often, there is
more than one question in what is asked. This may seem obvious, but trust me,
the most common mistake made is that responses do NOT answer the question
that was asked. Let me explain why.
a)You don’t read the question carefully and start writing before you really
understand what it is asking of you.
b) You are not taking the time to THINK and you start writing before you
collect your thoughts.
3) Let me recommend what to do in order to answer an essay question as well as
a)Read each question slowly and carefully. SLOW DOWN. Everyone at
the start of a test is going TOO fast. By that I mean we all tend to be
“spinning our wheels” without getting anywhere. To actually get
somewhere in your thinking you need to take your foot OFF the gas
peddle and slow down.
b) To do this – slow down, that is, read the questions slowly and decide
which one you will answer first. Usually one seems easier than the other,
but if not, choose either.
c)Then, you need to write yourself a small set of points that you wish to
cover in your response. Here’s why.
1) This is the part that REALLY matters. Think about what the
question is asking and what is relevant to it. Essay tests are a test
of what you leave out as much as what you include. They test
to see if you understand what IS pertinent to the answer and
what is not. Therefore, they test how well you understand the
material, not just your memory.
2) Take no more than 2 – 3 minutes to write you outline of points.
Then start writing. You be moving more carefully because you
took the time to think before you started to write.