Answering essay questions

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Tips on how to answer essay questions under time restraints.

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Answering essay questions

  1. 1. Answering essay questions Effective strategies and common mistakes
  2. 2. Useful Tips…
  3. 3. 1. Understand the question • Read the question carefully. • Make sure you understand what it is asking you to do! • E.g. ‘compare and contrast’, ‘describe’, ‘discuss’, ‘critically analyse’ • Underline key words
  4. 4. What’s the difference? 1. ‘Discuss the implications of the cosmological argument on religious faith’ 2. ‘Does the cosmological argument for the existence of God provide as reasonable argument for believing in God?’ - Underline the key words in each
  5. 5. 2. Plan out your answer before you start writing • Jot down a quick outline to remind you of the points you want to make • This will stop you from going off on a tangent and will help you structure your essay
  6. 6. 3. Convey your thoughts in an organized manner • The key points to your answer should be clearly stated and be the focus of your answer. • The key points should be obvious to the reader and not buried amongst peripheral material. • Do not include extra information if it does not directly support your answer.
  7. 7. 4. Structure the essay logically • Introduction 1. introduce the topic 2. introduce the essay • Body - present main points - develop and show your argument • Conclusion - wrap up the findings - answer the question
  8. 8. 5. Support all claims with evidence • Support your answer with evidence and/or examples from lessons and background reading. • A model for a paragraph that includes evidence and your own ideas: 1. Introduce your point (your own words) 2. Add the evidence to support your point (quoted or paraphrased evidence that needs to be referenced) 3. Explain how and why this evidence supports your point and what you think of it (your own interpretation and critical thinking) 4. Explain how the point helps answer the question (your own argument)
  9. 9. Mistakes to avoid… • Do not try to write everything that you have ever heard related to the question. • Do not write a good answer to the wrong question! • Do not expect the instructor to figure out what you mean

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