Most people are aware that taking an essay requires preparation and that you should spend a lot of time working on it before the exam. Yes, you certainly can! Many students incorrectly think that, since essay tests focus primarily on memorization rather than analysis, they can’t really study for the exam unless they pay someone to do the essay for them. But in general, essay examinations typically require you to gather information from several different parts of your course to make a coherent, meaningful answer and to support a specific interpretation with supporting examples. Although the essay may require you to spend a lot of time working on your answers and perhaps even some rewriting, it is not difficult endeavor-and students often underestimate how much time they actually need to devote to it.
Luckily, there are many resources available to help alleviate the stress of studying for your essay exams. Most notably, many online tutoring services offer complete guidebooks that walk you through the process of answering various essay questions, give you practice tests to evaluate your performance, and even give you detailed explanations of why particular aspects of your reading or writing make sense. Other helpful tools include personalized learning guides, multiple-choice tests, practice tests, and grade guides. There are also numerous books that walk you through the steps you’ll need to take in order to prepare for essay exams, such as “erning excellence” and “planning to succeed.”
Of course, one important piece of advice from essay experts is to start studying for your upcoming exam immediately after your last course. This means doing plenty of good old-fashioned studying, starting with an honest self-examination to identify where you are today. You may be surprised at how much reading and research you’ve been doing recently, especially if your courses have involved a large amount of reading and research. If your old exams were based on research from last semester, review these subjects now.
After you’ve identified the areas you need to improve upon, begin to write! It’s important to put down the details of each topic in a rough outline so you can review them later. For example, if your old exams were primarily centered on reading and writing, start by devising a study plan for yourself centered on increasing your comprehension skills. Next, determine which sections of your essay should receive the most focus-especially those that you found to be the most challenging. For example, if your math test scores fell, begin to include more problem solving activities in your plan.
The next step is to read through all of your course materials. Pay particular attention to the essay topics you encountered the most difficulty with. Then, use your outline to determine what you plan to do about these topics. If your weaknesses are with writing, spend some time writing out articles and essays about each of the topics. Or if you found reading to be your weak point, read the same passages over again until you can get through the passage without having to consult a tutor.
Now that you have your outline and your problem-solving strategies, you’re ready to start writing! Remember, though, that essay exam responses must be written without prejudice to any topic. Use your keywords and create an outline based on the information you gathered. Write your essay answers without reviewing the material from last semester. For example, if you found that your understanding of algebra was lacking, start your essay answer with an explanation of algebra and work your way from there.
It is important to practice your essay exam skills every day. During the review period, revise your answers and rewrite your essay answer as many times as necessary. Practice writing one question at a time. You can simply begin with one question and then work your way through the entire test, answering each question as you need to. Your best results will come when you take the time to practice your examination writing skills in between each of your tests. Doing this will prepare you for the actual exam, as well as your anticipated scores.