Preparing An Essay

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critique: What are the strengths and weaknesses of this idea? describe: What are the important characteristics or features of this idea? First, create a thesis for your essay that you can defend.

evaluate: What are the arguments for and against this idea? Often, you can turn the questions stated or implied on the exam into an answer and use it as your thesis. For example, suppose you are given the following prompt in your psychology class:"Procedural knowledge" is knowing how to perform a task, such as tying a shoe or driving a car, and studies of amnesia have shown that this type of knowledge or memory is often retained by amnesic patients.

Most essay exam questions, or "prompts," are carefully worded and contain specific instructions about WHAT you are to write about as well as HOW you should organize your answer. In an exam situation, it's easy to forget points if you don't write them down.

The prompt may use one or more of the following terms. Write out your essay, using good writing techniques.

Even in anmesic patients who have lost most of their declarative memory capacity, the ability to form new procedural memories is often intact...

Then, proceed immediately to explain, develop, and support your thesis, drawing upon materials from text(s), lectures, and class discussions.You are not only conveying information, but also proving to your audience--the examiner--that you have mastered the information and can work with it.In other words, your purpose is both informative and persuasive.For example, in response to this prompt from a social work class,. Coercive violence, on the other hand, is pointed and intentional; it has the goal of producing compliance or obedience. If you find you have digressed, neatly cross out the words or paragraphs.Thus, a blow delivered with a threat not to repeat certain behaviors would be coercive. It's better to cross out a paragraph that is irrelevant (and to replace it with a relevant one if you have time) than to allow it to stand.That way, you will know where you need to study more.Again, while you're taking the exam, remember that it's not simply what you say or how much you say, but HOW you say it that's important.In this context at least, quality is always preferable to quantity.Also check sentence structure, spelling and punctuation.An essay exam is different from standard question exams not only in format but in how you should prep for it.Studying will likely be less about memorization of formulas, dates, or definitions, and more about understanding ideas, symbolism, or cause and effect.


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