Writing short and long answer essay questions

Thursday, November 2, 2017
by Justin Huynh

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As the Fall term is nearing its end and everyone is nose deep in assignments and projects, final exams are the last thing on students’ minds. But nevertheless, these exams are coming and preparing for them sooner rather than later will reduce much unneeded stress and potential white hairs.

There are many different types of exams but the most common ones no matter what program students are in is the short/long answer essay questions. These are one of the trickiest kinds of exam questions due to their ability to test students on any topic and requires them to completely know the topic to get full marks. This is not multiple choice where you can make an educated guess to get the answer.

For help, register for the Long Night Against Procrastination (LNAP) event. LNAP is on Thursday November 9th from 6-11pm at the Student Life Centre (SLC), where you can get more tips and tricks on not just essay writing but everything to do with surviving the harsh uni life.

There will also be a professor there to talk about writing short/long essay answers on exams too! This insider scoop will give you a professor’s perspective on exam writing, so don’t miss out on this great opportunity.

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But if you can't make it, here are some quick tips on how to get through writing these kinds of essays:

  1. Outline Main Points and Concepts:
    1. This makes it easier to connect different points between paragraphs to improve the overall flow of the essay.
    2. Having an outline prevents mistakes later on that require drastic changes in sentence structure. We all know that making these changes is especially difficult and time consuming when writing in pen (and of course that one white-out gets stuck or runs out when you need it the most…).
  2. Use Key Terms:
    1. Using words learned in the course can be very helpful when writing essay answers because they are relevant to the topic and if used correctly show your understanding of the course content.
    2. A stealthier way to do this may be using synonyms of the term to show that you can apply the concept differently and to prevent repetition in your writing.