Essay Test Panic: Strategies
(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
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.