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Essay Test Panic: Strategies for Success
(Continued from 1)

Now take your first supporting point, and develop it. Use quotes, if you can remember them, and cite your sources. Tell your professor who supports the main point, and why.

For your second paragraph of the body, pick up another supporting point. Flesh it out with facts, reasons, opinions of experts in the field. Do the same for the third paragraph.

When you get ready to conclude your essay, restate your thesis first in your conclusion. Then, after you've restated the main point of your essay, work your way out. I like the example of writing a conclusion to that of leaving a party. Tell the hostess/host that you are going and thank her/him for having you. In other words, do not write anything new or shocking in your conclusion. Let your reader know that you are concluding the paper. If you need to, look over the essay and write your first paragraph.

Always watch the time. Allow yourself at least five minutes for each part of the essay, and five minutes to plan the essay.

Give yourself a few seconds, in the middle part, to stretch your fingers and breathe deeply. Take a deep breath, and go at it again.

Tell your professor what you know, and maybe, put your own spin on it. I remember one time in Western Civilization, I wrote that the gladiators were "mean, lean fighting machines." My professor drew a smiley face by that, and I heard that he appreciated the humor in the essay.

Some Brownie Point Ideas:

  • Quote your professor from his lectures.
  • Do the extra reading and make sure you show your professor that you did it by writing about it.
  • Throw in some comparison and contrast techniques--it notches the level up a bit.

These essay tips will only work if you have put in the time and trouble to study before the test. If you are keeping up with the reading assignments, attending class, and understanding the material, there is really no reason why you shouldn't be capable of structuring a well-written, superbly organized college essay. Good luck!

Barbara Baird is a freelance writer who recently graduated with a bachelor's degree in English, Summa Cum Laude. She lives in the Midwest with her husband, kids, and dogs, and writes for several regional magazines. She is also a columnist for a local weekly newspaper.

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