When students go into an exam they often panic and forget to do the most simple things, for example they often misread questions
and so don’t end up writing about what the examiners actually want them to
write about – this is, in fact, the most common problem with Paper 2 essays. So
make sure that you think carefully about the question and about what you are
being asked to do!
the question up into parts / identify key words to make sure that you are
doing exactly what the question wants you to do – in particular keep an
eye out for questions that ask you to do more than one thing, for example
‘How have the authors of the texts that you
have studied presented characters who are outsiders or alienated from
society in the texts you have studied and what does this reveal about the authors main themes or concers?’ In order to do well you will
have to answer both the ‘How’ and
‘What’ parts of the question.
any ambiguous words in the question, in this case words such as ‘Outsider’
might mean someone who does not share the values of a society, a
foreigner, a visitor or someone who is physically excluded from a society.
Defining a word in this sense doesn’t really mean the same as offering a
dictionary definition … instead, you are trying to make it clear
to the examiner what you mean by ‘Outsider’ and in so doing you can open
up some interesting areas to explore – for example you could now have an
essay with four main paragraphs about each different kind of outsider
you finally decide on a question and start planning quickly double check
that you think you will be able to write something detailed and
interesting about this question using the texts that we have studied. If
not then choose another question. Remember that you will have a choice of
six including the General Questions.
please plan your essay – a shorter but correctly focussed and well planned
essay will almost always score more highly than a longer disorganised
after you have finished planning but just before you start writing double
check that you really have answered exactly what the question has asked of