Preparing for an Exam Essay

By Bhalachandra Sahaj

Preparing for an essay exam can be stressful, as you don’t really know what to expect. You are usually given a few possible topic ideas from your instructor that might be on the test. To ease your anxiety, I came up with some tips on how to not freak out about essay exams.

  1. Write a practice essay every day

    Okay, you might think this is nerdy, but it really works. Say your timed essay exam will be 50 minutes long. Write a 50-minute essay every day as practice up until the day of the test. You should write about the topics given by your instructor or about the general material the test is going to be revolved around. Time yourself and see how you manage your time. That brings me to my next point.

  2. Time management is half of it

    Learn how to outline quickly and properly to make your essay run smoothly. You also need time to edit at least once. So, 5% of the time should be for outlining and 5% of the time should be for editing. The rest is you rushing towards a word limit. Check your watch periodically to see how you are matching up with the time limit.

    If you get stuck at a certain point for a long time, go to another paragraph or section and see if it is easier for you. Come back to your problem area a bit later.

  3. Organization and transitions are key

    Your instructor doesn’t want to see a mess on the page. He or she is looking for an essay that has organization, strong claims with valid arguments for them, and focus.


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