Many tests will include at least one essay question, which will ask you to discuss at length an important concept or theory taught during the course. Essay questions are often worth a significant number of points on tests and exams, so knowing how to properly write an essay is important if you are hoping to get a good grade. Following is a brief overview of the essay writing process.
- #1 – Read instructions carefully: Before you write a single word, be sure that you understand exactly what you are being asked to do. Does the instructor want you to take a stand on an issue? Are you supposed to describe an event or a process? What type of supporting evidence are you supposed to use? Read the essay instructions carefully. Misinterpreting or disregarding them can drastically reduce your test grade.
- #2 – Make a basic outline: Use some scrap paper to make a quick outline before you start writing the essay. This will help ensure that your final essay is well organized and that you stay on topic while you’re writing your answer. Jot down your thesis statement or main idea and the major points that you want to cover.
- #3 – Write the essay, being sure to support your major points and thesis statement: You should spend most of your time actually writing the essay. Your thesis statement will be presented in the introductory paragraph, and the major points that you identified in your outline should be used to create the topic sentences of the supporting paragraphs that follow. Remember, it’s not enough to simply state your points. They must be backed up with evidence whether it’s quotes, statistics, personal observations, opinions, or facts. Many essays will contain three supporting paragraphs, but check the instructions to see whether the teacher has specified a number. The final paragraph of the essay is the conclusion, which succinctly restates the points that you covered. Refer to your outline throughout the process to stay focused on the assigned topic.
- #4 – Proofread the essay: After you’ve finished writing, take a few minutes to read the essay over and correct any spelling, grammar, or punctuation errors. Make sure transitions are smooth, and ensure that all points are clearly stated.