How can I write a good essay in such a limited time?

1. Practice

I would say first and foremost, practice loads! Pick a topic you want to work on and find a past exam question and just give it a go. I often found it helpful to do one or two untimed just to see how long it took me (and to test my knowledge), then you can refine it. Work out how long you'll have to do it in the exam and practice doing some under timed conditions. The more you do it, the easier it will become. This will also make it easier not to panic on the day of the exam. 

After even doing a few, you'll be able to work out how much they expect you to write and waht kind of thing you can cut out. 

2. Plan & Structure

Give yourself a couple of minutes at the beginning to jot down your points, you don't need long but this could make the difference between a weak "waffley" answer and a really strong answer. 

This is particularly the case with some the long answer questions in some papers where you are required to describe and evaluate. With these, structure is very important in order that you make it very clear to the examiner where you are describing and where you are evaluating. Use paragraphs to make this really clear and don't be afraid to start evaluative sections with "In evaluation..." 

The actual structure of an essay could vary depending on what works for the question (and how many marks it's worth) but I would recommend either:

Introduction / Describe / Evaluate / Conclude


Introduction / Describe / Evaluate / Describe / Evaluate / Conclude

However, this is by no means set in stone, read the question, think about what it's asking for and look at the mark weighting before deciding this for certain. 

3. Don't panic

Try and practice a few completely unseen. This will help test timing and knowledge, as well as giving you an opportunity to see what it feels like to do it under exam conditions. 

Remember to read the question carefully (maybe circle/highlight key words), do a quick plan, then go for it!

Annie N. GCSE Psychology tutor, A Level Psychology tutor, GCSE Philos...

2 weeks ago

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