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Short Answer/Essay Questions

One of the first things that must be pointed out when answering a question in essay format is to keep your writing legible (neat if possible) and grammar correct. While we can merely speculate as to the effect these will have on your mark, we can see a plausible link between whether or not the marker thinks you can write a basic English sentence and whether or not they will pass you. In most exams you are not supposed to be marked on your English – they will not take away marks for poor English. We have an inkling, however, that marks will be more free-flowing when you make everything easy for a marker however, and this includes proper, legible writing.

Analyse the question

  • Keep your cool and try to break down a question to its simplest base parts.
  • Before beginning the question outline the key ideas from the question that you will address. Choose the key words from the question and the key words you will base your response around and put these in a list at the top of the page. This will show the marker that you mean business.
  • From here, start a question off by answering the question e.g. QUESTION: Why is the sky blue? ANSWER: The sky is blue because… This style of answering lets the marker know that you are still on the right track.
  • Finally, (and we can’t stress it enough) let the examiner know that your understand where things fit into the bigger picture. Linking ideas is a great way of doing this. Demonstrating understanding is often what makes all the difference between an ‘A’ and an ‘A+’ answer.

Good luck!

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