Carol Wood

Essay tests can be a great way for a student to earn grade points because essays present an opportunity for him/her to tell everything they know about a subject and to earn points while doing so. If a student knows a lot about the subject, the essay is a place to shine!

• Essay questions involve major themes and how the facts relate to them. Therefore, it is essential to understand main ideas and supporting details.



• One excellent tool in preparing for an essay test is to use a previously written outline, mind map, or combo notes and recall questions of the main ideas and supporting details from texts and class discussions. Recall questions may even be the test questions.

The following terms are usually included in the directions for essays.

Questions that include these words require you to write all the relevant information you know:
* Describe * Discuss * Explain * List * Outline * Prove * Review * State

Questions that include these words require you to write specific facts in a specific way:
Compare - Write about the likenesses of the subjects.
Contrast - Write about the differences only between the subjects.
Compare and Contrast - Write about the likenesses and differences of the subjects.
Define - Write the meaning of the word or subject given.
Illustrate - Give examples that would explain and almost draw a picture about the topic.
Diagram - You do not need to write, rather draw and label charts, tables, timelines, etc.

Questions that include these words require you to write your opinion backed up by facts:
* Criticize * Evaluate * Interpret * Justify

Carol Wood is the Founder & CEO of Total Learning Concepts, Inc. Visit for information about their tutorial and test preparation services. For more information about Total Learning Concepts, Inc., please call 770-381-5958 or visit their website at