The bare white page is a formidable foe when it stares back at you, untouched, from the library desk.
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Try not to panic, protect and manage your preparation time, and don't put off getting started. It can be tempting to parrot everything you know when writing essays and exam answers. But to demonstrate your understanding you should engage critically with your source material. Always assume an informed reader — they do not need a plot summary or biographies of key figures.
Read through the marking scheme used by your department. You will notice some very telling words and phrases attached to the highest marks, for example: "originality of interpretation", "astute engagement" and "critical thought". To fulfil these criteria, you must favour analysis. In exams it's vital that you don't jump the gun.
Take the first five to 10 minutes to read through the paper and plan the questions you're going to answer in order of how confident you feel in that subject area, says Bhavik Patel, lecturer in physical and analytical chemistry at University of Brighton. Make sure you secure the marks on the questions that you find easiest to answer first, before attempting questions that are more difficult. The latter often make you lose confidence and time during exam conditions.
Top tips and golden rules
When revising, students often rehearse answers in their head. But instead students will often pick up key words in the question and write out a rehearsed response. This can be avoided by taking some time to reflect upon the question, rather than seeing that as wasted time and rushing to fill the pages. In both exam responses and coursework, students are often more concerned with quantity rather than quality.
Analyse, Explain, Identify… 22 essay question words and how to answer them
The best essays are those that demonstrate evidence of personal reflection and are not just trying to achieve a word limit. During revision time, students are too selective in what they choose to read, selecting one or two books and remembering as much from those as possible. What comes across in a good essay is confidence, and this can only be achieved by demonstrating plenty of reading on a subject, so that you can be prepared for any question that you come across.
This also requires giving yourself plenty of time to read, and not leaving it until a few days before an exam or assignment.
A Student Guide to Essay Exams
In English we are looking for excitement and originality of thought backed up by evidence and we don't want you to take our formulations as gospel truth, says Martin Eve, lecturer in English literature at the University of Lincoln. Challenge — and think for yourself. Always make sure your statements are specific and show self-awareness. Do say: "There is no one single representation of working-class life in posts British fiction".
Don't ever go for something like: "Novels that feature the working class show us that these people Getting characters' names or other basic factual details wrong just smacks of not caring. The words in bold are from the essay question, just to demonstrate how easy and yet key it is to refer to the question throughout the essay in order to show that you are staying on topic.
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This is a clear, concise way to structure English essays and can transform how you write, as well as make it easier to quickly plan essays under exam conditions. If you have any questions or would like more support from my exam series or even help with coursework - let me know! Study resources Family guide University advice. Log in Sign up.
How to Prepare for IELTS Writing Task 2
Find a tutor How it works Prices Resources. Sign up. The below three structure tips will help you to start to conceptualise what a good essay answer looks like: 1.
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Answered by Mujina K. Need help with English Literature? Find a tutor.
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How do you go about writing an English essay? How do I effectively close-read a passage from a novel studied in the exam? What is poetry? How should I structure my answers? We're here to help.
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