“Understanding a question is half an answer.” Doesn’t it sound relevant for writing a successful essay too?
If you wish to have a good start to writing an effective essay, start with the question itself. The correct interpretation of an essay question plays a crucial role in deciding your academic score. Once you take sufficient time to think on the essay question, it becomes much easier to proceed with your essay writing task.
Below is a complete guide which may help you in understanding what an essay question means before you attempt to answer it:
Read the Question Twice
Students tend to make errors in the first reading of the question. So, to interpret the title accurately, read it twice to have a clear understanding.
Identify The Components of a Title
Every title can be divided into three components:
The Subject Matter
It is the key phrase you are being asked to write about in an essay question. The title of an essay often addresses an important issue within the area of study. Understanding this aspect of an essay question is quite simple.
These words convey what your essay should comprise of to address the issue in the question. To have a clear idea about the topic, you should be aware of the exact meaning of these words. Some commonly used words and their meanings are:
Account for: It tells you to clarify the essay title by giving valid reasons wherever possible.
Analyze: It focuses on the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of the topic. Just don’t define or describe it.
Assess/Evaluate: Both these words have the similar meaning and you should determine the value of the phrase in the title.
Criticize: Here you have to consider both the positive and negative aspects of the issue that is being discussed in the question and then give a conclusion.
These are those words or phrases in the title which narrow down the topic and make it more specific to a particular context. Try to write your essay within the limit prescribed by these words.
Rewrite the Title
If the essay title is framed in a complicated way, then it can sway your mind away from the exact point of reading. Therefore, it is suggested by the experts to rewrite the whole question as a series of smaller questions. This way you’ll have a more focused research and structure.
As you follow the above steps to understand the title of the essay more clearly, do keep in mind the below-listed points which are to be avoided:
- Do not pick out just those words that you understand and leave the rest. You’ll come out with a completely different understanding of the topic.
- Never try to twist the meaning of the title according to your existing knowledge. This can badly affect your final essay.
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