Essay Exams

And no, that doesn't mean you just try to tell your mysterious, probably middle-aged NESA marker what you think they want to hear. Your marker wants to see how well you understand the texts and how the authors communicated those ideas.

Waffling affects the clarity of your essay and the marking criteria about the ‘composing’ of your response.

It also might affect how well the marker thinks you understand your argument so it’s always better to pause, give yourself a few seconds to try and reach a solution.

If you kind of messed up the timing of the whole exam and you don’t have your full 40 minutes then pick up the pace and if you can’t do that, time to make some quick decisions about what to cut. Even though you’ve definitely memorised these perfectly by the HSC (lol), it’s worth having a strategy for making sure you put all your evidence in.

My personal tactic was, before starting to write the essay, to scribble that evidence (or just a keyword to jog my memory) down at the top of my planning paper or scribble it under the plan I wrote.

Essay writing is enough of a struggle when there isn’t any time pressure.

Add in a 40 minute limit and that’s pretty much breaking point for a lot of us 🙃 .If the exam is something like English Paper 1, you know that a third of the (two hour long) exam is an essay so you should be starting that essay with at least 40mins to go.Hot tip: a lot of top students try to move through the first two sections of that exam fairly quickly so they have more time for a banging essay 💯.Well don't stress too much because we're going to help out here with some tricks and tips for writing exam essays* that will actually show the HSC marker all of our killer ideas and skills.This might end up being a pretty hefty post so let’s get cracking straightaway.Addressing the keyword and source material really well will show your marker than you are actually answering the exam question, not just chucking out a pre-prepared response.The overall best tip for writing essays in exams is to remind yourself what your markers are looking for.When it comes to writing the essay, the structure you planned out will let you know if you’re on track or not.40 minutes to write an essay and you have an intro, conclusion and four body paragraphs? Well then it’s pretty clear that you should get your intro and the first two paragraphs done in 20 minutes. It might be quotes, it might be dates, it might be stats.And they want to see how well you can bring all these ideas together and communicate them in a logical, cohesive manner.Don’t get too caught up in fancy language or insanely obscure techniques - you’ve got this.


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