Treat your reader (whether it’s your class teacher or an external examiner) like a child who can’t do any interpretive work of their own; imagine yourself leading them through your essay by the hand, pointing out that you’ve answered the question here, and here, and here.Now, this is all very well, I imagine you objecting, and much easier said than done. Structuring an essay that knocks a question on the head is something you can learn to do in a couple of easy steps.You’re not totally convinced that what you’ve written is relevant to the title you were given – but it’s inventive, original and good.
Treat your reader (whether it’s your class teacher or an external examiner) like a child who can’t do any interpretive work of their own; imagine yourself leading them through your essay by the hand, pointing out that you’ve answered the question here, and here, and here.Now, this is all very well, I imagine you objecting, and much easier said than done. Structuring an essay that knocks a question on the head is something you can learn to do in a couple of easy steps.You’re not totally convinced that what you’ve written is relevant to the title you were given – but it’s inventive, original and good.Tags: Airport Self Assigned IpThe Crucible And Good Night And Good Luck EssayEssay On Achievement MotivationAcademic Dissertation CrosswordNursing AssignmentsBusiness Plan For Software Development CompanyCompare Contrast Essay About MusicThe Stolen Party EssaysAldo Leopold Research PaperArcane Thesis Errata
Or even if I can see why, the thought of taking it out is wrenching. If you recognise yourself in the above, there are two crucial things to realise.
The first is that something has to change: because doing well in high school exam or coursework essays is almost totally dependent on being able to pin down and organise lots of ideas so that an examiner can see that they convincingly answer a question.
It’s not actually that important how original you are, how compelling your writing is, how many ideas you get down, or how beautifully you can express yourself (though of course, all these things do have their rightful place).
What you’re doing, essentially, is using a limited amount of time and knowledge to really answer a question.
Let’s imagine you’re writing an English essay about the role and importance of the three witches in Macbeth.
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You’re thinking about the different ways in which Shakespeare imagines and presents the witches, how they influence the action of the tragedy, and perhaps the extent to which we’re supposed to believe in them (stay with me – you don’t have to know a single thing about Shakespeare or Macbeth to understand this bit! Now, you’ll probably have a few good ideas on this topic – and whatever essay you write, you’ll most likely use much of the same material.But your essay isn’t met with the lavish praise you expected. The grade your teacher has scrawled at the end is nowhere near what your essay deserves. And the comment at the bottom reads something like, ‘Some good ideas, but you didn’t answer the question! If this has ever happened to you (and it has happened to me, a lot), you’ll know how deeply frustrating it is – and how unfair it can seem.When it’s tossed back onto your desk, there are huge chunks scored through with red pen, crawling with annotations like little red fire ants: ‘IRRELEVANT’; ‘A bit of a tangent! ’; and, right next to your best, most impressive killer point: ‘Right… This might just be me, but the exhausting process of researching, having ideas, planning, writing and re-reading makes me steadily more attached to the ideas I have, and the things I’ve managed to put on the page.“Within Macbeth’s representation of the witches, there is profound ambiguity about the actual significance and power of their malevolent intervention” (Stephen Greenblatt). I’ve organised the examples into three groups, exemplifying the different types of questions you might have to answer in an exam.The first group are pretty open-ended: ‘discuss’- and ‘how’-questions leave you room to set the scope of the essay. Beware, though – this doesn’t mean you don’t need a sturdy structure, or a clear argument, both of which should always be present in an essay.Evaluate the importance of the three witches in bringing about Macbeth’s ruin.Are we supposed to believe in the three witches in Macbeth?The second part involves identifying key words and phrases.Use forceful, persuasive language to show how the points you’ve made do answer the question.My main focus so far has been on tangential or irrelevant material – but many students lose marks even though they make great points, because they don’t quite impress how relevant those points are. It doesn’t matter how impressive, original or interesting it is.It doesn’t matter if you’re panicking, and you can’t think of any points that do answer the question. It’s a waste of time, and might actually work against you- if you put tangential material in an essay, your reader will struggle to follow the thread of your argument, and lose focus on your really good points.