Essay writing in exams

Many of you will have to sit down and write essays in examinations. One of my students asked me how best to prepare for this – what a difficult question! There are so many aspects to writing a good essay that it is impossible to cover them all in a short time. Many teachers spend whole courses trying to teach the art of essay writing. I am going to spend the next few posts saying a few things about essay writing, and the first thing I’m going to mention is planning. This is an essential first step. You are not ready to start writing until you have a plan. Imagine building a house without designing it first! What would it look like?! The plan is essential because you need something to follow. But that’s not all – if somebody gave you a plan do you think you could write a good essay from their plan? Well, I think not, or not a very good one. Why? Because if you took somebody else’s plan then you wouldn’t have gone through the framing process which is so important to good essay writing. Imagine trying to find your way around a new town without a map. Pretty hard. Now imagine that you have a map to examine before you go. You look at the map, you build a mental representation of the place, you see the big roads and where they meet and how all the streets tie in with each other. After this framing process you are ready to get out and see the sights. You will have the framework in place before you get out there. Alternatively, imagine you didn’t have a map. Or you didn’t have a map until you got out there. Then you would have to stop, scratch your head, turn the map round and round and try to make sense of it. You can be sure that everyone in the street would keep bumping into you and there would be nowhere to put the map down flat so you could see it properly. The link that I’m pointing to today is one I’ve mentioned before but there’s nothing wrong with revisiting useful sites. There’s several good pages about essay writing here with links for you to follow, and it begins with some ideas on essay planning. The site produced by Palgrave Study Guides is here.