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Writing an exam answer

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The trick to writing an exam answer on your extended reading text is to use the question to show as much of your knowledge about the text as you can, while still answering the question.

Writing an exam answer

Like doing a controlled assessment, you need to plan your answer – but you don’t have as long to do it! Spend the first few minutes deciding on what points you need to use to answer the question. Make a bullet point list or a spider diagram. Aim for four to five main points. Make sure that you have a point which refers to the main themes of the text. You also need to talk about the structure and the language used.

Exercise: practise planning at speed. Use some practice questions. Give yourself four minutes to come up with all the points you’d need to answer the question. Finish by writing your first sentence.

The first sentence of your essay needs to sum up your answer to the question. Make a positive statement in relation to the question. The rest of your introduction will give the main points which you are going to make.

Remember to refer to what the author has done. Show that you aware that you are studying a written text. Not ‘Lenny is childlike’ but ‘Steinbeck shows Lenny as being like a child.’ This will help you to pick out techniques, and to access the higher grades.

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