Writing essays in exams

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Writing essays in exams
M any exams ask you to write quite long answers.
These can be scary but become easier if you
know how to approach them.
There are many ways to break up the the process of
writing an essay or longer piece of text. Many teachers
How do I write an essay?
have their own method and you should certainly listen
to your own teachers' advice first.
Here are some suggestions as a starting point
Try tackling the essay in five steps.
1 Decoding the question WARNING! Many
students only do numbers
2 Brainstorming ideas 2 and 4. This leads to
3 Sorting ideas into a plan a muddled answer. It's
worth taking the time to go
4 Writing the essay through all the stages.
5 Reviewing and amending
1Decoding the question
Decoding the question means understanding the command
words and key words (see pages 31-33).
2Brainstorming ideas
Once you know what a question is asking for, spend a little time
brainstorming ideas to go into the answer. This means writing down in
no particular order all the things which come to mind as relevant.
It may be helpful to use a tick list of some kind to prompt ideas. For example, TICKS DO is a
mnemonic (a memory prompt) used by Geography students to brainstorm ideas for essays:
T Theory ­ is there any relevant to the question?
I Ideas ­ what are the key ideas/concepts?
C Case Studies ­ are there any to include?
K Killer facts ­ key statistics to include
S Synoptic links ­ what are the important links with other topic areas?
D Diagrams ­ are there any which are relevant?
O Other side ­ is there more than one side to this question?
You may be able to use TICKS DO in your essay planning ­ if not, try to come up with
your own mnemonic for the things you should think about when brainstorming
34 Get Revising! Brought to you by www.getrevising.co.uk Chapter 3

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Writing essays in exams
3Sorting ideas into a plan
Once you have written down your ideas, you need to decide which of them (if
any) should be rejected. Cross out anything which you don't intend to use.
Those that remain need to be sorted into a plan. You can do this by just
numbering them, but it is better to rewrite your ideas as a list in the order
in which you intend to put them in your answer.…read more


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