Essays are subjective questions because there is no specific answer and based on your understanding or knowledge. Essay writing strategies play a very important role in essay writing. The lecturer usually looks at particular points in the answer. There are varying degrees of correctness.

The first condition to be successful in the exam is to have good knowledge and preparation. No strategy can compensate for a lack of knowledge and inadequate preparation.

All writing follows the same process even though different subjects require different types of writing assignments. The following strategies can help you improve your performance on essay tests and exams.

1. Prepare for the Test

Before the test, solve as many practice questions as possible. Make up your questions or consult for previous questions. When answering sample essay writing questions, stimulate the conditions of an exam, and have the same amount of time you were in the actual test. Pick a practice question, set a stopwatch, and see how you do.

2. Read the Directions Carefully

A student may lose many points on essay tests due to not paying attention to the directions. Check directions. How many questions do you have to answer? Where are you going to write your answers? On the test, on lined paper, etc.  How many words must you write? Are you supposed to include dates, examples, the names of famous people?

3. Organize, Outline Your Essay

Organize your thoughts before answering your questions. Organizing your thoughts and preparing a short outline will allow you to write more clearly and concisely.

Divide the outlines into general points and specific details. General points shall be taken from the question or the different parts of the question. The student provides particular details based on general points1.

Organize the main points of the outline. The structure depends on the question. Brief descriptions of five common methods are given below1.

  • Chronological Order: Order of historical events, cause to effect, step by step sequence
  • from general to specific: General topic to subtopics, theoretical to practical, generalizations to particular examples
  • from least to most: Easiest the most difficult, smallest to largest, worst to best, weakest to strongest, list important to most important, list complicated to most complicated, list controversial to most controversial, etc.
  • Giving both sides: advantages and disadvantages, assets and liabilities, similarities and differences, bad and good, hard and easy, weak and strong, effective and ineffective, complicated and uncomplicated, etc.

    4. Right Methodically

There are three sections to the essay writing: the introduction, the body, and the conclusion. The introduction is the most important part of the essay. Either boost or destroy your score. By introduction, the reader understands what you are going to talk about and how you plan well2.

How should I write the introduction? Translate your plan into 3-5 sentences. Don’t write more than five sentences because you don’t have much time. Your introduction must contain answers to the following questions;

  • what is the topic?
  • And, What is the question?
  • What is your opinion?
  • the last one, What are your reasons?

The last paragraph is used for the summary, a restatement of the topic, and your interpretation. Do not introduce new information in the last paragraph.

Provide ample details and specific examples in the answer. The more detailed information you give, the higher the ranking is likely to be. Irrelevant “filler” that doesn’t support your answer will likely lower your grade.  Use clear labeling words such as comparisons, examples, similarities, contrast, differences, most, probably, exceptions, etc.

5. Manage Your Time

I know many students waste their time on a single question. They were saying that if enough time were provided, they would answer all the questions. They are right, but there is a time limit for all types of exams. When you encounter a difficult question, you should skip it.

Put a watch on your desk and check your time regularly. When you start the exam, you should go through the exam and get an idea of the question’s difficulty level. Intend to spend more time on problems with more points.

If a question is worth 15% of the test, it deserves 15% of the exam time. In your view, you should have a rough estimate of how much time should be allocated to the issue.

6. Prioritize Easy Questions

When you quickly go through the exam, you will find some questions that are so easy and do not take much time to answer. Do these questions first. Completing them accurately and quickly will improve your trust in the rest of the exam. Intend to invest more time on topics that count for more points.

7. Read Questions Carefully

Determine what information is given, what information you supposed to write, and how you will answer the question (e.g., contrast, compare, prove, summarize, etc.) Breakdown complex questions into smaller parts1.

Essay questions contain some specific verbs, asking students to do certain things. Some of these verbs are given below.  You should learn these verbs to express your ideas better, to provide information that the examiner wants.

Analyze: Split the subject into its components and analyze each part of it. Then reunite and present the whole topic. Please provide any conclusions which result.

Compare: Look for attributes or features that resemble each other, show variations and similarities between them.

Contrast: Compare to show differences between things, qualities, events, or problems.

Criticize: Express your judgment on the advantages and disadvantages of the causes or opinions alluded to above. Please send the results of your evaluation of these variables. 


Give it clear, concise, and precise meaning. Show how things you describe vary from related things.

Describe: List physical characteristics, give some details (discuss, explain, identify) and examples 

Diagram: A diagram is the symbolic representation of information using visualization techniques. Give a drawing, charts, or graphic answer.

 Discuss: Examine from all angles, analyze carefully, and give details in an organized manner.

Evaluate: carefully appraise the problem. Give your opinion regarding the advantages and disadvantages.

Explain: Make clear, describe in more detail, give reasons for differences of opinion. 

Identify: Point out and describe—state distinguishing actions or qualities.   

Illustrate: Provide with pictures, explain or clarify by giving clear, images-appropriate examples.

Interpret: Comment on a subject, make clear and explicit, give your judgment.

Justify: Prove or show to be right or reasonable, state distinguishing actions or qualities.

List: Write an itemized series of concise statements. Give the information that is specifically asked for.

Outline: Give a short description of the main points, give the main features or general principles, emphasize the structure.

Prove: Demonstrate the truth or the presence of (something) by proof or argument.

Relate: Show the relation between the items mentioned; how one affects the others4. 

Review: Examine a subject critically, analyze and comment briefly in an organized sequence

State: Express the main points in brief, clear form. Omitting details or examples

Sunrise: give a brief statement of the points of (something).

Trace: Find or discover by the investigation, show how something developed step by step

8. Use Key Phrases in Your Writing

A phrase is any group of words, sometimes with a special language context. You need to use key phrases to convey the points you want to make in an articulate, intelligent, and persuasive manner.  Key phrases add variety and interest to your writing, grab the reader’s attention and help you to write more effectively and quickly during exams. The most important key phrases are given below.


9. Do not Use Contractions

In your writing exam, avoid constant contractions.


10. Reduce Your Word Count

Reduce your word count and increase the quality and clarity of your essay writing.

Use as few words as possible; avoid dead way words like “very, so, a lot, really.” Replace them instead with a strong word. Instead of saying really happy, you can say elated. Instead of saying so scared, you can say terrified3.

Avoid writing there is/ there are. Make everything as clear as possible. Sometimes “there is” and “there are” act as fillers. They add extra words.

For example; there are many problems that we may encounter (8 words)

We may encounter many problems (5 words)

11. Check Your Work

Allocate your time to check your essay before you submit it. For content, “did you answer the question? Did you stick to your point of view?”

For organization, “are paragraphs and sentences logically ordered? For writing, is your answer clear? Is your grammar correct?” When you are writing under time pressure, it is possible to make grammar mistakes and complicated sentences.

NOTE: Grammatical range and grammatical accuracy are key for boosting your score. Use a broad range of sentence forms in your essay. Simple done accurately is better than complicated done inaccurately in essay writing.

12. Be Confident

Maintaining your confidence is the secret to performing the exams well. If you’ve planned enough, there’s nothing to think about. Students are surprised by new questions on the test, and then they ruin the simple questions they should have heard about. Try to see the test as a whole, not its individual parts. Missing one question doesn’t affect you to get good marks.