Essay-writing exams

In exams, there's not enough time to go through the entire writing process, but the same key principles apply. The following guidelines will keep you on track:

Choose the best question

You'll often be able to choose which question you do. Look at the language carefully, so you know how to give a complete answer, then pick one that allows you to show what you know.

Plan your essay

Give yourself a few minutes to think about each essay question and plan the points you want to make. It doesn't have to be long – a few dot points will do.

Answer the correct question

It's good to predict and prepare some sample answers before an exam, but remember to answer the question that's on the page, not the one in your head. You'll only get marks for information that the question requires.

What markers look for:

  • question answered
  • clear essay structure
  • clear argument
  • evidence and examples for each point
  • legible writing.
If you're running out of time, write your essay plan and examples as dot points – you might still get a few marks for your ideas