Nearly every examination taken at the JHS, SHS, College, or university would include answering essay questions. WASSCE students need to master this inside out for their examinations.
Essay questions allow students to share informed thoughts and knowledge about a topic under examination conditions. Often these questions carry a lot of marks.
Failure to address the issues required in the right manner may lead to poor scores and examination failure.
So the question is, what are the general standard rules and tricks for providing better answers to essay questions?
In answering essay questions, you would have to make some analysis based on the course content, your research, and then express them in your own words.
Since the examination may provide a limited time within which to do this, it is important that the learner understands the requirements of the question.
Students would have to follow a systematic approach to answer the question very well.
Have you heard “Understanding the question is part of the examination” before? If you do not know exactly what the question requires as an answer or answers, you are likely to face difficulties.
Useful Tips For Answering Essay Questions
Answering essay questions is a skill and a craft that needs to be learned and practiced. Since essay-type examinations may require you to attempt two or more questions, be guided by the following tips.
#1 Read the general instruction well
Do well to carefully read the general instructions of the examination and know the number of questions you are to answer.
Read the sub-category instructions or question-specific instructions. Ask for clarification from invigilators if you are not clear in your mind.
#2 Allocate time to each question
Allocate time to all questions. For instance, if you are to answer three essay questions in 2 hours. On average, you are to spend 40 minutes on each question.
Divide the 40 minutes into 10 minutes for planning ad 30 minutes for writing the essay.
What this means is that, if you spend 40 minutes on a question but you are yet to complete answering it, leave it and move to your next question. You can score more points with a new essay than with the remaining answers for the previous question attempted. Stick to the plan while keeping an eye on the time. To do this always enter the exam hall with your own analog wristwatch.
#3 Identify question keywords
While reading the questions, circle or underline key terms in the question. You must understand the needs of the question based on the keyword identified.
Check out our write up on this : 15 Essay Question Keywords for Exams Success When Understood by Students
#4 Enumerate key points/cues
Jot down, points or cues as quickly as possible as you read each question. If you have an acronym for the required answer, write it immediately and expand it before you move on. Develop a logical structure of how you intend to answer the question. If you have practiced with similar questions before the examination, this will come naturally. Sometimes, you can forget these answers quickly under examination pressure.
If the question does not specify how many points to develop, then five points will be enough.
#5 Choose and arrange questions to answer
After this, determine the questions you want to answer and which one would be first, second in that other.
Some students think choosing the difficult question means they will score more marks. It’s never true.
Choose an easy question per your knowledge and preparation and answer the questions you are confident about first.
This will motivate you and calm you down for the rest of the examination.
#6 Craft a good introduction, raise the strongest points first
Always come out with a good introduction that captures the spirit of the answer. You may use definitions, statistics, rhetorical questions, and relevant quotations or statements.
In answering your best question, raise your strongest points first and explain them. Provide examples.
This means whiles preparing for the examination, you should think through examples that you will give.
This may include statistics and facts as they make your answers solid and good.
#7 Do not impress with big words and grammar
Use simple, clear English language to communicate your ideas to the examiner. Avoid big grammar, you may irritate the script maker.
#8 Arrange answers in proper sequence
Raise your key term or theme for each answer in paragraph one of every new answer. In sentence 2 of the same paragraph, throw more light on the point raised. This should be followed by a clear and excellent example to support your point and explanation. The example goes to confirm your understanding of the concept or point. If there are drawings or sketches or graphs to support, introduce them and explain them briefly.
For example, we are to develop a point on the uses/importance of rivers to Ghana’s economy.
Fishing has been an important economic activity for people living along water bodies such as rivers, streams, lakes, and the sea. In Ghana, water bodies such as Lake Bosomtwe, the sea, and Pra remain important water bodies of economic value not only to fisher folks but also the nation at large.
Rivers play important roles in the economic development of Ghana as they serve as a source of fish (protein) in our diet. Fish such as redfish and Tilapia remain caught in Ghana’s water bodies serve a delicacy to the Ghanaian people and provides the protein needs of the nation. In 2019, Ghana’s water bodies provided over 900,000 tonnes of fish for local consumption.
It is important to add that,…
From the above, you notice that there are three paragraphs. One served as the introduction, the second was used to raise the first point; it was expanded and an example we introduced.
Then a third paragraph It is important to add that, … starts with a transition phrase.
#9. Answering Essay Questions And Transition Words
When raising new points, students can use transition words/phrases. They include words like ‘and, ‘but’, ‘so’, and ‘because’. These words show there is some relationship between the issues discussed in a given paragraph.
Look at the transition words in the table and master how they are used. Notice that each of these is followed by a mandatory comma.
|Transition||Example word/phrase||Example sentence|
|Cause and effect||Therefore, as a result, so, consequently||I’m tired. Therefore, I’m going to bed.|
|Clarification||That is to say, in other words, to clarify||We’re letting you go. In other words, you’re fired.|
|Contrast||But, however, on the other hand||I am not fond of fruit. However, I do like bananas.|
|Example||For example, for instance,||In the evening, I like to relax. For instance, I enjoy watching TV.|
|Emphasis||Above all, most importantly, certainly||There are many reasons to exercise regularly. Above all, it keeps you healthy.|
|Enumeration||Firstly/secondly, further, and, moreover, in addition||Today, I’m going to write a post. In addition, I’m recording some video lessons.|
|Time||Meanwhile, during, subsequently, after that||I’ll start by telling you what transition words are. After that, I’ll tell you why you should always use them.|
|Similarity||Likewise, similarly, in the same vein||She tried really hard to entertain her guests. Similarly, he put all his heart and soul in cooking a great dinner.|
|Summarize/conclude||In conclusion, to sum up, in short||In conclusion, transition words are an important aspect of well-written essays.|
Transaction words may be introduced at the beginning or in other parts of the essay or sentence to achieve a particular effect.
They help to keep the writing perfect and interesting to read and develop.
As you can see from the table some common ones are First of all, Also, It is important to mention that and again.
They are often used to introduce new points.
Check your grammar and spellings, make sure your handwriting is clear and easy to read.
Develop excellent conclusions for your essay.
#10 Go over your essay
It is always advised that students read through their essays to identify and correct spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, and incomplete thoughts or points.
You have to read these:
- How to write formal letters and articles to editors: BECE, WASSCE & GTLE
- How to write informal letters or friendly letters – BECE, WASSCE, and GTLE
- Good Memory Techniques for BECE and WASSCE Candidates
Check for more Exam and study tips >>> ALL EXAM AND STUDY TIPS
These titbits have been provided to serve as the foundation upon which to build and develop your writing skills for your essay or subjective papers. Constant practice will make these skills and knowledge a part of you. Keep researching to add to this information shared.