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Test Strategies for Essay

When studying for an essay test:

  • Look for overall concepts and themes.
  • Create practice questions based on the concepts and themes that appear to be prevalent.
  • Write short essays from the questions you created.

During the test:

  • Read the test thoroughly.
  • If you do not understand the question, ask!
  • Use scrap paper to outline the information you need and want to include in the essay.  Outlines also help with the clarity and flow of your essay.
  • Check your outline against what the test question is asking for.  Pay attention to clarifiers such as compare, evaluate and analyze.
  • Always include needed information, plus a little more.
  • Use your critical thinking skills to bring more complexity to your essay answers.
  • Do not be wordy.  Think of the most compact way to write your sentences.
  • Do not use specific dates unless you know them.  Instead use time periods. 
  • Consider time management.  With 60 minutes to do three essay questions, only allow 15 minutes per essay.  You can always come back and finish essays if time allows.
  • Neatness counts.  If your essay cannot be read, your grade will reflect that.  If you make a mistake, a simple line is neater and takes less time than erasing.
  • If time allows, proof-read your essay.  Catching those simple mistakes can make a big difference.


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