… or, tips on how to get a decent grade on an essay exam.
The acronym KISS is pretty appropriate — keep it simple students (stupid… but, my students aren’t stupid..).
The key to writing a good essay question is understanding the question — if you understand the question, you can figure out what the answer should be.
Make sure you answer all parts of the question — completely. Don’t think that your answer to one part of the question is sufficient for the rest of the question — it’s got multiple parts for a reason.
Also, make sure you get your basic facts correct — know the philosophers, the theories and the main objections to each theory before you start. For reinforcement, mark them in your notes and book… duh.
Write your answer in Word so you can use spell check. That seems simple, but a pal who teaches second year law students says they don’t do this — don’t be like them. I suppose there is a reason they are attending a 3rd / 4th tier law school… but still.
Make your answers clear, concise and complete. Don’t think you can leave stuff out because I know it — the point is that I want to be sure you know it.
Include your own original observations, analysis and summaries of the material. This shows me that you know your stuff and were paying attention.
If you use ideas from other people, use a citation (Smith, 11) for example, is fine.
Don’t cite me or my powerpoint if the material is in your book — this is just lazy and I’ll notice, believe me.
Make sure your answer says what you think — so write well and good luck!