The Gift of Gab
Landing an 'A' on Your Essay
- Get answers ahead of time. If you
dont understand some of the class material or
your notes simply dont make sense, be sure to
get a clear explanation from your professor before
sitting down to write the essay. Make a phone call,
stay after class, or set up an appointment. Your professor
will be more than happy to help and will appreciate
your motivation to do well in his class.
- Make use of supplemental
material. Really want to wow your professor? Go
outside the classroom and gather some facts to sprinkle
into your essay for additional flavor. The information
that you gather should have three characteristics.
First, it should pertain to the subject matter at
hand. Quotes or statistics that have nothing to do
with the immediate subject matter will only clutter
up your essay
and your brain. Second, it should
be easy to remember. Dont try to memorize Hamlets
monologue or the top thirty causes of death in children.
Simple quotes or statistics will do. Third, it should
be factual. Dont make up stuff to sound important,
and dont take everything you read on the Internet
as fact. Your professor has spent a lot of years studying
the subject matter at hand and will spot a phony claim
Now that youre the most prepared student in the
class, how do you integrate your preparation with actual
writing to create a masterful essay?
- Hook em early. Your essay
should begin with a hook or introduction that
will make the professor want to read on. This could
be a short paragraph about something that really happened
to you, a rhetorical question, or a fictional illustration
of the material being discussed. Make this paragraph
snappy, intriguing, suspenseful, emotional, and leave
it open-ended. You can create your hook at home before
you come to class for the exam. Simply tweak your
hook to fit the specific subject of the essay come
This paragraph is very important, as it will color
your professors picture of your essay right
off the bat. He will read on with a positive attitude
that you will have given him a thoughtful, creative
piece of work.
Tell em what youre gonna tell em.
Dont forget to end your first paragraph by telling
your professor what you plan to discuss in the essay.
Be clear and forthright. Use the words First
I will discuss
, Next, I will explore
Third I will explain
, and so on.
This will show your professor that youve given
your essay thought and that your presentation is organized.
- Now, tell em. Now that youve
told your professor what you plan to say, dont
forget to say it in the body of your essay.
Again, be clear. Restate, as your first sentence of
each supporting paragraph, a repetition of what you
said in paragraph one: First, I will discuss
Next I will explore
I will explain
, and so on. Dont
worry that this repetition will sound boring or redundant.
Again, your professor will be wowed by your ability
to organize your thoughts effectively.
Dont be afraid to use your supplemental sources
here. Sneak in a statistic
if it fits, or a quote.
Be sure to credit the source of your information.
Nows a great time to use your memorized notes.
Repeat your professors words as closely as
you can remember them. She wont be offended
shell be thrilled to know that someone
in class was listening so closely!
Finally, use your gift of gab. By the fifth page
of the fifth essay, your professor has likely read
enough alas, therefore,
however, and hypothetically speaking
to make her gag. Use plain language that is academic
but not too formal. Leave your alas-es at home.
- Tell em what you told em.
Your closing paragraph or conclusion should
begin by repeating those same sentences over again.
First I told you
, Next I explored
and so on. Use the same verbiage you used before and
keep them in the same order. Let your professor know
you can maintain systematized thoughts throughout
the entire essay.
Do not enter any new information into your closing
paragraph. This is only a time to remind, sum up, and
End with a bang. Remember I told you to leave your
hook open-ended? You will use it in your closing paragraph.
After youve told em what youve told
em and summed up the paper, its time to
leave with a bang. Revisit your hook and answer any
unanswered questions. Did you leave the professor
wondering if youd ever answered the nature/nurture
question about your child? Tell her in this sentence.
Did you end the opening paragraph with a rhetorical
question about Epistemology? Give your answer here.
Consider your essay a beautifully wrapped gift and
the last sentence of the last paragraph a shiny ribbon.
Tie it up and hand it over.
So your test is over and the paper is in and you have
a maddening week before youll know how you did.
How do you handle the gnawing feeling that you got it
Post-test review. Go home and look
over your notes once again. Youll be looking at
them with new eyes now that you know the focus of the
essay question. You will see points you missed and points
you hit dead-on. You will lay to rest any fears that
youre going to fail (since youve followed
my suggestions, theres no way youre going
to fail!) and you can get on with your life. Being a
nervous wreck for a week is silly. Look over your material
and forget about it. Youll be just fine.
Essays dont have to be the makers of gray hair
and ulcers, though many returning students see them
as such. There are clear-cut guidelines to writing the
perfect essay that will be recognized and rewarded by
your professor. By following the guidelines set forth
here, you are sure to ace your next
essay and gain your professors respect in the
the In-Class Essay Exam and Essay
Test Panic: Strategies for Success.
Jennifer Brown's award-winning poetry, fiction, and nonfiction
have been published in over a dozen magazines, e-zines,
newspapers, and anthologies around the world. She is editor
of Applecart Magazine
and a book reviewer for Bookpleasures.