You’ve got to give the students
room to analyze, to synthesize, to
show both sides of an issue, or to
develop an idea, and the essay
question is the only way that I
know to do that.
When asked to explain, you should tell how
something happens or works. This is similar
to a written explanation that you have
probably written in science (e.g. How a
Volcano Works) or a procedure (e.g. How
does the Voting Process Work).
Compare and Contrast
When comparing, you should explain and
use specific examples to illustrate how things
are similar. Try to show more than one way.
The more examples you give, the better.
Contrasting is the opposite. When
contrasting, you are showing how things are
different. Again, try to give as many
examples as you can.
Descriptions are written accounts of how
something or somebody looks, feels, sounds,
or acts. When we describe something, we
use sensory words and descriptions.
When asked to define; you must be like a
scientist. Simply tell what the topic or word
means or what it is. Pretend you are looking
in an encyclopedia or dictionary. Just give
the facts, no colorful adjectives or personal
When proving something, you must give the
facts and details in order to show something
is true. So, you state your fact (or you may
be given one on a test), and give details that
support that fact.