At some time in your undergraduate career, you’re going to have to write an essay exam.
For more information on exam preparation and writing strategies, see our “Exams” pages.
Some suggestions in this handout were adapted from “Fastfacts – Short-Answer and Essay Exams” on the University of Guelph Library web site; “Resources – Exam Strategies” on the St.
Generally, however, the decreasing-importance pattern is my default option.
This is because decreasing-importance pattern follows the way journalists write: they start with the most important piece of news to get their reader’s attention so in case the reader doesn’t read to the bottom, they still get the gist of things.
Because of this, I usually skip this stage on written exams and move on to Stage 2.
After I finish writing an essay and checking the order of the arguments, I like to quietly read the piece, mouthing every word.
Here’s an efficient way to clean up your essay before you move on to the next one.
Scan through each sentence, then each paragraph, to see if the order makes sense and that each point ties together.
Depending on how many points a question has and how difficult it is for you to answer it, decide on how long you’ll take on each question.
You can write out those minutes on your sheet to remind you.