How To Write on an Essay Exam

June 21, 2010  |  Note-Taking

Writing essays on an exam isn’t the same as answering simple questions on a conventional exam. Some people prefer the essay format while others would rather be judged with a plain old exam where all the questions are straight forward. In this guide you’ll learn how to write your essay on an exam.

1. Have a plan

You’ll need a basic plan on how to face the exam. There’s – in general – no secret formula on how the essay should be other than the instruction your teacher gives. However if you’ve already prepared with a plan on how to tackle it, you’ve won half the battle. Before you take the exam you should prepare as much as possible. Get your hands on previous exams and/or ask the teacher how the questions will be formulated and how s/he wants them to be answered.

2. Don’t worry about the details

Start writing, it doesn’t matter if your you’re unsure whether you spelled a word correctly or if you messed up with your grammar. You can (and should) edit these types of details later on when your essay has been completed. For now the most important thing is to get some words on that piece of paper.

3. Did you forget the milk?

Have you ever been told to buy some milk on your way home and while doing so you thought you might as well pick up a couple of other things with the story ending with you forgetting about the milk and buying lots of other stuff? It happens to pretty much all of us. It’s easy to forget about the most important thing when you have lots of other things to consider as well. That’s why I’d recommend you to scribble down all the most essential topics your essay needs to contain before writing it. By starting out this way, you make it easier for yourself not to exclude anything important.

4. It has to be captivating

Just because an essay contains all the most important pieces of information doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good. Your essay needs to be written in a structured and precise manner. It also needs to be captivating. If the reader doesn’t feel almost drawn to your work it must be lacking something. It takes time to deliver that extra ‘something’ that separates an okay essay from a remarkable one. To develop this skill you need to train a lot, if you already have it you still need to train if you don’t wish to lose it.

Further Resources

How To Write an Essay
Essay Examples

About the author

ABDERISAK ADAM is an author, blog writer and a PhD candidate in the institution of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Chalmers University of Technology. He is also the owner and webmaster of www.study-habits.com, a website dedicated to the discussion of study techniques in the context of higher education. Adam is the author of a number of publications including 'The Study Guide PRO'. You can connect with him through Google+, Linkedin or by submitting a form.


1 Comment


  1. practicemakesperfect

    I learned a lot from this…. thanks to the author.

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