Exam Writing Skills: The 5 Best Ways to Improve Them


Every student has their version of the fastest way to cope with exam assignments. Some offer to look at all the questions before answering them. Some recommend having a couple of deep breaths before writing down your surname on the exam sheet. Some prefer to start with simple questions and leave the difficult ones for later. Some don’t recommend double-checking your paper more than twice, as you may start overthinking and changing your answers from the right ones to the wrong ones.

If this is not your first exam, you probably have your own techniques that work for you. What we want to offer are 5 tips that many students are ignorant of. Hopefully, they will help you to complete your answers on time and will demonstrate to your teacher that you have a solid understanding of your exam’s topic.

1. Pay attention to the mistakes you’ve made earlier

When describing the pitfalls of their profession, many teachers say that the most frustrating part of their job is to see a student making the same mistake over and over again even though the rules were explained to him or her multiple times.

Do your teacher a favour: check out your previous pieces of writing and pick out your most frequent mistakes. When you will revise your exam sheet before turning it in, pay special attention to your “favourite” flaws and eliminate them. By doing so, you will show your teacher that you have learned something. This might not increase your mark if you make some new mistakes instead of the old ones, but this will influence the relationship with your teacher.

2. Read the instructions

Completing multiple-choice tests is much easier than writing an answer from scratch, as all the answers are already written and sometimes choosing the right one is a bit of guesswork. And even though you have to read the question carefully to provide the correct answer, things become even trickier when it comes to answering open questions.

To avoid bitter misunderstandings, read your prompt several times. Remember that there is a difference between “discuss,” “contrast,” “describe,” “examine,” and “compare” and these are requests for different kinds of answers.

Also, don’t be afraid to ask your teacher for help if something is unclear with the question itself. If this is not forbidden in your class during an exam session, of course. As a rule, the worst option is a teacher refusing to help you, which is not a big deal.

Exam Writing Skills The 5 Best Ways to Improve Them tips

3. Make a plan

A unique structure with time-lapses and retrospectives can make your essay more interesting. However, we recommend you to leave your attempts to mimic Nolan for a more creative type of essay you can complete at home without the classroom’s clocks ticking in your ear so fast and so noisily.

Don’t over-complicate your exam essay: use the common 5-paragraph structure. One paragraph for the introduction, three paragraphs for the main body, and one paragraph for the conclusion is a great time-tested way to provide a thorough answer to the most complex question.

After reading a prompt, give yourself several minutes to brainstorm for ideas you would like to cover in your essay. Then, put them in the right order and connect them logically. Words like hence, hereafter, therefore, etc. will help you to do this and will make your writing look more academic. Choosing the strongest arguments for the beginning of the assignment and finishing your writing with the weakest ones is another mistake commonly made by students. If one of your points is weak, don’t use it. There should be no waste words and ideas in your exam essay.

Also, try not to make your conclusion a repetition of what has already been said. Let it better be the synthesis of arguments and counterarguments you’ve used.

4. Dive to the bottom line as fast as possible

The main difference between completing your papers at home with getting through your writing exams in class is that for the latter one, your time-management skills become crucial. You might know the subject perfectly, but who cares if you didn’t manage to express it on your exam sheet before the bell rings.

To make your writing faster and your exam essay unique, don’t copy what is said in the prompt in your introduction part. For example, if your prompt is “Describe the social reproductive system and the peculiarities of sexual behaviour in Brave New World by Aldous Huxley,” don’t start your essay with “The social reproductive system and the peculiarities of sexual behaviour in Brave New World by Aldous Huxley can be described as follows:…” You can repeat the question in your answer if you need to, but do it creatively and at least in your own words.

As you don’t have so much time for your exam essay, avoid long introductory parts that don’t demonstrate your understanding of the topic to the teacher. At least eliminate “it is well known that…” kinds of phrases from your vocabulary.

5. Get ready for your exam

This is not only about revising your notes, asking someone who has already been through this exam for help, or making cheat notes. Get assistance from a professional essay writing service and ask for a perfect custom-written paper for your exam. Academic help services nowadays understand students’ needs and know how to ease their pains. Samples completed by experts, for example, will show you how to give an interesting answer to a common question, how to structure your essay in the best way, and how to demonstrate to your teacher that you deserve an A.


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