Writing an Essay for a Timed Examination

The essay examination is an opportunity for the student to exhibit his or her knowledge, but more importantly, the essay allows the student to utilize the skills of intellectual debate: analysis, interpretation, and evaluation.

Through the essay exam, the student is encouraged to consider the broader meaning of history, considering the causes and effects of historical events and the relevance to the present. A strong grasp of the facts, from assigned readings, class lectures and discussions, is necessary. However, it is equally important to understand why and how the events took place. An essay enables the student to explore these cause and effect relationships and use the terms and concepts discussed in class.

The essay question will call for such things as explanation, description, analysis, criticism, comparison, and summarization. Read the essay question carefully and follow the guidelines the question gives you. Make a mental outline of how you are going to answer and summarize the question. Do not answer the question by simply making an outline or pouring out facts in disorder. Keep reading over the question as you write the answer to make sure that you are staying on track. Adress major issues, refer to important terms and names, and maintain a chronological framework.

Writing ability certainly influences the grade you receive. Poor expression and serious errors in spelling and grammar will undermine your efforts. It is wise to prepare essays as a part of studying for the exams. This gives you an opportunity to check your work for proper language usage, while improving your vocabulary and strengthening your written communication skills. You should also time yourself and prepare your essay responses by simulating the testing environment. For example, if you know that you will have fifty minutes to complete two essays, prepare your answers with that time frame in mind. Although quality is more important than quantity, the instructor will expect the length of your essay to correspond with the amount of time that you have to write it.

Sample  Essay questions.