Understand the Verb; Your professor sets an essay question based on a verb. Most essay questions will contain two different types of words - keywords and process words. For an essay of argument, formulate a tentative thesis statement at a fairly early stage—that is, a statement of your own likely position in the controversy that most interests you, or your preliminary answer to an important interpretive question. An essay question or title can be broken down into: Instruction: What you must do Subject: The topic of the essay Aspect: Defines the facet of the topic you must consider Focus: Context in which you must consider the topic.

This guide will help you understand how to gain a better understanding of your essay question. Understand the essay question Before you consider anything else, it is essential to understand exactly what you are required to do. Focus and Precision: How to Write Essays that Answer the Question. The first step in essay writing is to understand the given question.

It is necessary that you know exactly what you are asked to do. A good way of approaching your essay is to break the question down. Make sure that you identify the key word in each essay question you read. How to Understand Essay Questions. To enable you to understand essay questions or titles, you should identify their salient parts: instruction — the task that you must do. These are the usual verbs they use: Analyze – When you’re asked to analyze a particular topic, it means that you should tackle its features, elements, or parts that make it a whole. To find the information you need, you'll need to first understand your essay question and identify which words to use in your online search. Teachers and professors use certain key words in essay questions to communicate what they want you to do. Tip: Use the assessment criteria to ensure you are focused on the task. subject — the topic you will write about. About the Author Stephanie Allen read Classics and English at St Hugh’s College, Oxford, and is currently researching a PhD in Early Modern Academic Drama at the University of Fribourg. Most essay questions contain directives as to what is required, and the most common ones are defined below: Identify the key words in the question; Understand process words; Recognise the topic of the question; Recognise the limits of the question; Play the Analyse the question (interactive game) below; To choose a topic: Pick a topic that suits you; Write an effective title. (See The first step with an essay question is to identify what exactly you are being asked to do. You do not have to stick to this answer or statement, but it will help focus your investigation. To understand an essay question. We’ve all been there. For example, an essay question that asks you to “describe” an issue will be different from an essay question that asks you to “argue” a position. Tips: How to Understand the Essay Question.