Answering Essay Questions

Factual Recall   NAME, LIST, STATE, SUMMARIZE, OUTLINERestate or summarize from your notes. 
Analysis / Explanation of Relationships EXPLAIN, DISCUSS  (Main ideas and Major supporting points) Explain in detail, based on the information in a lecture or reading Note: Do not express your opinion!
use Critical Analysis
use Cause/Effect; (C/E)
use Comparison/Contrast (C/C) 
Synthesis / Application of previously learned principles ANALYZE, EVALUATE, EXPLAIN, PROVE, SHOW, JUSTIFY, ILLUSTRATE, COMPARE/ CONTRASTTransfer the principles or material learned in class to another example or situation (synthesis /“think”-question) 
Note: Do not express your opinion!
OpinionIN YOUR OPINION, …    WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT …?State your opinion and prove it with examples and/or supporting points by referring to information from a lecture or reading. 
  1. Read the questions very carefully at least 2 or 3 times. 
  2. Circle  the main verb (= action verb/imperative) in the question and decide on the necessary rhetorical strategy for answering the question (cause-effect, comparison-contrast, definition, classification, problem-solution). 
  3. Make sure you understand what type of answer the main verb calls for (a diagram a summary, details, an analysis, an evaluation). 
  4. Circle all the keywords in the question. 
  5. Decide if you need to write a 1-paragraph or a multi-paragraph answer. 
  6. Write a brief outline of all the points you want to mention in your answer. 
  7. Restate the question and answer it with a topic sentence (for a 1-paragraph answer) or a thesis statement (for a multi-paragraph answer).  
  8. Answer the question according to general rules of academic writing.  Use indentations; begin each paragraph with a topic sentence; support the topic sentence(s) with reasons and/or examples; use transition words to show logical organization; write a conclusion.  Use correct punctuation throughout. 
  9. Read over your answer again and check if all the main ideas have been included. 
  10. Check your answer for grammar and punctuation.