Understanding Essay Questions

Understanding Essay Questions for Essay Writing

Fully understanding an essay question should be the first step in responding – well before writing anything.
An incorrect interpretation of a question can lead to poor answers.
It will cost you more marks than anything else.
So let’s go through the best way to understand every question you come across.

Break it Down for Understanding Essay Questions

You should really focus on splitting the question up into pieces, and work out exactly what it is you need to do in your answer.
To start with, let’s look at all of the parts of a question.
This is the first place you look.
Why? A question asking you to ‘discuss’ requires a different answer than one asking you to ‘argue’.
Your answer to both of them, naturally, will be done differently.
This keyword should define what it is your answer should be doing.

Type of Response

This is the first place you look.
Why? A question asking you to ‘discuss’ requires a different answer than one asking you to ‘argue’.
Your answer to both of them, naturally, will be done differently.
This keyword should define what it is your answer should be doing.

WWH – what, why and how

In essays, you’ll mainly be looking at what, why and how.
These are again aspects that need to be interpreted differently:

  • Why: is it that something might occur?
  • What: is it and what does it do?
  • How: Do we get A from B?

Subject and Stimulus

Your subject or stimulus is where your evidence and your ideas will come from.
It should not form your discussion.
Often this will be your stimulus or prescribed text.

Connection and Topic

This is the key section of the question.
This is what your discussion is trying to prove: that the theme of duality is represented in the text.
Therefore, your discussion should reflect the theme of duality and its representation.
Your text, and the quotes you use from it, will be evidence.
Your quotes need to have relevance and be linked from your discussion back to the question.

Where to from Here?

Where to from Here?
From your answer, you should be focusing on developing some ideas which reflect the aspects of the question you’ve identified.
Developing your main points relies upon making a number of strong links between subject and topic of the question.

Leave a Reply