When writing an essay for a class or an exam, the single most important thing to do is: answer the question being asked by the teacher or the exam.I can honestly say that this is a very common mistake that essay writers make Click To Tweet
As a teacher, professor and grader of standardized essay exams, I can honestly say that this is a very common mistake that essay writers make. Essays required for class or for an exam must have an objective criteria for grading in order for the score to be valid . This may be a rubric or a checklist. Therefore, it does not matter what your personal relationship is to the individual grader or even how amazing your essay is, if you do not answer the question you will lose several points automatically, and may even fail.
The essay question is meant to test your specific knowledge on a topic. The essay must also demonstrate how well you construct an argument and provide evidence to support your argument. If you write an essay on a different topic or if you do not answer the specific question being asked, you are not demonstrating the knowledge the grader is looking to see you have mastered.
Imagine if a student is supposed to write an essay about WWII and instead writes an essay about War Craft. The student may be a brilliant writer, but the grader instantly knows that the student does not know what they are supposed to about WW II. You always want the reader/ grader of your essay to believe you know what you are talking about.
How can you be sure to answer the question when starting your essay?
Here is a checklist to use:
- Read the essay question over a couple of times to make sure you understand. If this is for a class, make sure you ask the teacher if you have any questions or doubts about what is being asked.
- Answer the question in your mind or write it somewhere else if you can. Often the first part of the essay question will have a yes or no answer. Choose a side so that your argument will be clear.
- Incorporate your answer into your thesis statement or your argument.
If you have time, be sure to read over your essay before turning it in to be graded or scored. Start with the essay question and check that somewhere in your first paragraph you answer the question directly. Then read the rest of your essay to make sure the entire essay is related to the question and that you have not gone off topic and started writing about something else. One tool to avoid this is by writing an outline.
Answering the essay question is the first important step to writing a high-scoring, excellent essay.
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