In Class Essay Exam Strategies


Before you read the essay, if possible, read the exam prompt. This will help you to look for points / arguments / quotes in the essay that will help support your thesis and round out your body paragraphs.

Also See

Essay Test Tips

Test Taking Tips in General
Time Yourself

Allow time for each of the following steps, depending upon how much time you have in class. Below is a simple plan:

• Pre-reading / re-reading: 10 minutes
• Outlining / Forming a thesis: 20 minutes
• Writing: 50 minutes
• Checking work / proofreading: 10 minutes


It is a good idea to give yourself a "grace period" of a few minutes, just in case you run over your time limit with one of the steps. Make sure to wear a watch on exam day!

Make an Outline

An outline that contains your thesis and points for the body paragraphs of your essay. Not only will this help you organize your thoughts, but it will give you a "map" to follow while writing (much like the thesis is the "map" for your entire essay).

While writing, maintain focus in your essay's paragraphs. If you suspect that one of your sentences is tangential or not necessary, it probably is.


Make sure to relate points outlined in your body paragraphs to the essay or reading that you address, as well as back to your thesis.

This can be accomplished in a number of ways:

• Quote directly from the essay, if possible.
• Relate something from the essay to your own experience.
• Relate specific points from the essay back to your thesis.


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