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Writing Answers to Essay Questions

Writing Answers to Essay Questions
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   high interest, readability grades 4 to 6
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   3.76

     challenging words:    mitosis, objective, summarize, transition, illustrate, multiple, outcome, textbook, dealt, meaning, lastly, focus, writing, recall, highlight, link
     content words:    Civil War

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Writing Answers to Essay Questions
By Patti Hutchison

1     Here it comes; the test is almost over. But you know what that means. You've come to the dreaded essay questions. You've nailed the multiple choice and the true and false questions. You're even pretty sure of your short answers. But the essays always seem to bring your grade down. How can you write a good answer to an essay question?
2     Good writing begins with good reading. First, read the directions carefully. Do they tell you how long your answer should be? How many points is each part worth? Do you have to answer all the questions, or can you choose to answer only a certain number? Find the answers to these questions in the directions.
3     Next, read each essay question carefully. If possible, highlight the verbs in the question. They will tell you what the question is asking you to do. For example, if it says to define something, it means to give the meaning of it. "Explain" means to describe, give examples, or give reasons for something. "Illustrate" means to give examples and show how they relate to the topic. To summarize means to briefly cover important ideas about the subject. Make note of these verbs so that you will answer the question correctly.
4     Next, make note of keywords about the topic. You will need these keywords for your topic sentence. For example: Name and define the key steps in the process of mitosis. For this question, a good topic sentence could be, "There are four key steps in the process of mitosis." You have used keywords from the question in the topic sentence of your answer. The reader now knows that you understand the question. Now you can go on to name and define the steps.
5     Make note of how many parts there are to the question. If possible, number them in the question. How many parts are in this question? Which battle of the Civil War do you think was most important? Describe this battle and tell which side won. How might the outcome of the war have been different if the other side had won this battle? If you said there are four parts, you are right!

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