Below are some tips on how to make your essays better and help ensure a higher grade. Many of the recommendations may seem simple and frivolous but they are the most common mistakes students make so don't let them happen to you. If you ever have a question about anything listed below, feel free to contact Professor Reynolds at firstname.lastname@example.org or, if the first email does work, use email@example.com. And feel free to submit an essay via email to Professor Reynolds for review prior to your exam so he can tell you if you are on the right track. You should take advantage of this offer! It not only will make you prepare your essay(s) a bit earlier, it will help you focus on making your essay(s) an A! But note that if you decide to take advantage of this offer you must submit your essay(s) at least 48 hours prior to the test date! Now, here are some things to help you get a better essay exam grade:
1. Make sure you answer all the parts of the question. Most essay questions have multiple parts. Make sure you answer them all or you are not likely to get better than a C on your essay.
2. Use full sentences and paragraphs when writing your essays. Do not write in outline form.
3. Follow the directions on the top of the page on which your essays are listed. So if you are told to write with ink, write your essays in ink and not pencil. And if you are told to use a small exam book (meaning one 5 by 7) do not use a big exam book (meaning one 8 by 11). If you are taking an online class, then submit your essay via email to firstname.lastname@example.org and NOT to Blackboard.
4. Always define terms. Do not assume the reader knows what your definition is of a key word. So if you use terms like "Manifest Destiny" or "Cold War" then say what they mean.
5. Explain who the people are that you mention in your essay. In other words, say why the person is important enough to mention or what is the person's significance to your essay.
6. Use as much analysis and explanation as you can for each point you raise. Always ask yourself why you are making your point and write that down in your essay.
7. Make sure your responses are specific. In other words, stick to your question and avoid broad generalizations.
8. If you are taking your test in class as opposed to online, do not waste time writing an outline in your exam book once you see the question. More often than not you will be under a severe time restraint to get your essay completed so know what you want to write ahead of time and start writing when you get the exam.
9. Watch your tenses, spelling, grammar and organization. You are not taking an English class with Dr. Reynolds but it should make sense to you that if you have chronic writing problems in your essay or if your essay is disorganized it will not read well and it will get a lower grade.
10. Use a person's full name when you mention that person the first time in the essay.
11. It is OK to abbreviate but make sure it is a common abbreviation (like U.S.) or make sure you tell the reader what your abbreviation means the first time you use it.
12. If you are taking an online class, it is not OK to use quotes in your essay. And make sure you put all information from your text(s) into your own words.
13. Use only the text(s) assigned for your class to answer your essays.
14. Don't worry about a thesis statement in your opening paragraph and don't waste time writing the question. The reader should easily figure out the question you selected from the answer you give. If the reader can't, then you did not properly answer the question!
15. Do not use "etc." in your essay and don't say you think something is such and such. Be positive and state facts or don't mention it. Your grade will likely be affected more negatively by your saying something wrong then by your leaving something out.
16. Be as specific with dates as you can. If your not sure of a date it is better not to guess at it and have a wrong answer. And speaking of dates, make sure the things you mention are in the correct sequence.
17. Keep your essay organized. If there are several parts to your question, answer them in order. Or if your question involves a time sequence, follow it.
18. Avoid repetition. When you repeat something, even in a summation, it often looks like padding. So state your point and move on.
19. When you finish your essay spend time reading it over. If it seems to flow well than it probably is well written.
20. Don't guess at information. It is better to omit something then to write wrong information.
21. Be careful and don't include in your response information that should be in a different essay unless it is also specifically germane to your essay. Stick to your question and only answer it, not another question.
22. Don't waste time giving background to your question. Get to the question and answer only what is asked.
23. Read the directions on your test carefully and follow them exactly! Follow these rules and you should do well! All the best, Dr. Reynolds