How to Write Essays that Answer the Question

Though answering the question doesn’t sound as something difficult to do, it might be sometimes tricky for students. Some of you haven’t even thought that the essay you write might be labeled as “irrelevant to the topic.” Unless you are attentive and circumspect, you risk making the essay not connected to the theme.

There is vital rule to consider: no matter how well you write, which stylistic figures you use, how interesting the chosen examples are if you don’t answer the question, those mentioned positive aspects of your composition won’t be considered. But if you learn to do both, your writing skill will improve at breakneck speed. Don’t think that you can give short answer at the very beginning, and then start describing something else. The answer should be included in each paragraph but in varied ways. It can be paraphrased, explained in different examples, compared with other similar topics, but the essay should be the whole way through connected with answering the question.

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You can treat the readers as someone who doesn’t understand the topic at all. If you have topics connected with literature, sometimes the task description says that the readers already know the plot and you shouldn’t retell the story. But if it is not mentioned, you should be explicit in your writing. The more specific your answers are, the better relation they have to the questions.

Analyze the question

When you receive the task, read it thoroughly several times. If some questions sound ambiguous, it’s better to ask your teacher about the exact meaning. Think about the value of your future essay: what will it teach, explain the readers? Will it be useful to read? Understanding this will give your composition exact message and clear main idea.

Try answering a question with a question

It doesn’t mean you need starting an essay with a question, especially if it academic writing. You should directly ask yourself the following questions after you have read the task description:

  1. What is the aim of my essay?
  2. What is the main topic and what are the subtopics?
  3. Which audience do I refer to?
  4. How many questions should I answer?
  5. Is it a one-sided or balanced essay?

You can even take a notebook to make question and answer format. Doing this in black and white will help you focus on the topic of discussion. Write down the answers and return to them while writing the composition. You’ll see that whenever you deviate from the theme, the answers will show that you begin writing irrelevant information. If you need to check which examples can be used to prove the thesis statement, read them aloud and go back to the questions. Do these instances contain answers or are they too abstract? If necessary, change them.

Rewrite the task with synonyms

Rewriting the task with your own words will allow you to learn the vocabulary related to the topic. Simply paraphrase the task description, and it will help you choose words for the introductory paragraph.

Task: People want to discover different planets while our own Earth is in danger of pollution. Do you agree that people should continue spending lots of money and efforts on examining the Universe or do they have to solve the contemporary problems on Earth?

Paraphrased task: Lots of explores investigate the possibility of living on other planets. However, the Earth suffers from contamination. Is it more significant to proceed to examine the outer space or focus on current negative issues connected with our nature?

You’ll see that such activity will help you understand the topic better. If you practice paraphrasing sentences, it will improve your writing skills in due course. You can even use the same technique when paraphrasing the thesis statement in conclusion. Just be careful with less frequently used synonyms, they may have different connotation and stylistic coloring. If necessary, read the definitions and check the lexical context of these words.

Visualize the topic

Each sentence has its core meaning in two-three words – keywords. Take a pencil and underline these words in your task description. Do the same with each sentence to find out the main topic of discussion. Having done this, you can use the highlighted keywords in creating mind map on a separate page. Write several words which denote theme in the center and draw connecting lines to other keywords which indicate subthemes. By visualizing the topic, you manage to make your essay focused on precise ideas.

Do research on topics

Sometimes students want to outwit teachers by beginning writing about the required subject and then gradually leading to another theme which is more close to the students. If you think that teachers won’t notice and will praise you for providing evasive responses, you are wrong. What is more, such attitude makes you look lazy and unprofessional.

If the topic is new to you, do research on the Internet or by reading different literature. It doesn’t mean that you should write like a real expert, but you should have solid background understanding of general trends. It takes time, but the result will be rewarding.

Be critical to yourself

It’s not easy to evaluate your writing, but if you learn to do this, it will be a useful skill for other assignments. Try to be subjective, check your final paper as if you are a teacher. Put yourself a mark and consider possible feedback. After you receive the real score, compare teacher’s evaluation and yours. If there is a significant discrepancy, ask for explanation. Most teachers are happy to clarify the reasons of putting their marks. Keep in mind the feedback; next time try to do the same again. The more you practice, the more you understand teacher’s demands.

The tips mentioned above are not difficult for students who are attentive. If you need to receive good marks, you should take “answering-the-question” step seriously. Pay attention to these recommendations while writing several essays, and you won’t need to rewrite the whole composition because of its irrelevance to the topic.