Writing an Essay Exam:

1. Use your time wisely.

Do not spend so much time on the short answer questions that you have insufficient time to write the essay, or vice versa.

2. Read through the exam once before beginning.

Quickly jot down any key words that come to mind while reading over the short answer questions. This will help you remember what you need to know.

3. Make an outline before writing the essay part of the exam.

Take time to organize your thoughts. Make sure that you are presenting the ideas in a logical order. Outlining before you write will also help you focus on specific points you want to make when you are writing an essay. It will also help you write a coherent essay.

4. Your essay should include the following.

In addition to an introductory paragraph which indicates the main point you will be making and a conclusion which summarizes your argument, you will also need body paragraphs which develop major aspects of your answer. Make sure each paragraph has a strong topic sentence and that the information contained within the body of the paragraph is relevant to your answer. Don’t waste time in your essay making general observations about the ancient Romans; a coherent, detailed account of the relevant information will receive higher marks than an essay stuffed with obvious padding.  

5. Proofread your work before you hand it in.

There is nothing less satisfying than getting an exam back with points taken off for: 1) misspelled words; 2) omitted words or parts of an answer; and/or 3) misstated figures or facts (e.g., writing Verginia when you meant to say Lucretia).