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Steps to Success » Essay Writing

Exam Essay Essentials

In exams, we’re often asked to write essays on unfamiliar topics. Some students feel panicked at the prospect of this as they can’t research support for their ideas. This is especially the case in subjects such as English, when the essay topics can’t be studied for in advance. The key to these essays is understanding the planning process.

The main thing to remember is that essays ask you to argue a point. Since the essay topic is one that you can’t research (because you’re in an exam), it’s asking you to apply all the knowledge you already have on different topics and pull together ideas relevant to this one. Take your time over this. If you’re in a hurry, you’ll only think of the simplest ideas (ones the examiner will see dozens of times and grow bored of) or ideas that aren’t really relevant to the topic. It can be hard to understand which ideas are interesting and relevant enough when you’re starting. However, practice really improves your skills with this, and taking an Essay Writing class will give you the feedback you need.

You should also remember that being well informed on a range of subjects is great preparation for essay writing. In an exam, well-read students have plenty of ideas to choose from to connect to the essay topic. For example, knowledge about intensive indoor hydroponics can be applicable to essays on environmental issues, food shortages, and possibly even school expansions. You don’t need to strive to know everything; strive to make the most out of what you do know.

Once you’ve thought of a range of relevant, interesting ideas, then you’re ready to start planning. Make sure to structure your ideas clearly. The five-paragraph structure of introduction, 3x paragraphs of ideas or 2x paragraphs of ideas + 1 counter-argument paragraph, conclusion will provide you with an easy road map to follow. You also have a simple sandwich structure that ensures your main body paragraphs are clear and convincing: topic sentence, elaboration, reasoning, examples.

Start preparing today! Read more, listen more, and get informed. That will make your future essays a success.