Requisite Approaches to Answering Different Types of Exam Essay Questions.

Requisite Approaches to Answering Different Types of Exam Essay Questions
Different subjects you will write in the certificate examinations have their peculiarities. By virtue of the nature of some subjects, the questions set in them require that more or less formal structured approach be used to provide required answers. Other subjects are associated with questions that may be short structured but require very specific answers without formal structure. Yet, other subjects require specifics with purely mathematical analysis. When revising, you need to become familiar with the kind of questions you will encounter in different subjects and the approach you are to use in answering them.


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At school certificate level, subjects in which questions may require planned out and structured answers include Literature in English, English Language (letter writing and Essay questions), History, Christian Religious Know ledge (CRS), Islamic Religious Knowledge (IRS), and some questions in Government. Questions in these subjects are structured out with requirements such as “Give an account of..”“Describe the...,”“Evaluate the causes or effects of...,”“Analyse the...,”“Argue for or against...,”“Assess...,”“Compare and contrast...,” Justify..., Discuss..., Illustrate..., Review...;
“What circumstances, or explain the circumstances that...,”“How did or How was...,”“Outline the...,”“Examines the...,”“Trace the circumstances...,”“what is or what was...,” Etc.

The structure required in answering these patterns of questions in these subjects is to first give an introduction, followed by a body and then conclusion. The introduction could be a paragraph that explains what the concept being examined is all about; or three or four sentences that portray a historical background or some important points on the concept. The body of your answer should be a few paragraphs detailing the specific information about the concept(s) as demanded by the structure of the question. Such specifics could anchor on one or more of causes, effects, steps, procedures, advantages, disadvantages, story line, usefulness, lessons learnt, problems, benefits, applications, etc. From the structure of the question, the student must ensure that he understands exactly what the question wants him to do before starting to answer it. In some cases, the answers can be laid out as numbered list with a sentence to explain the point listed in each number. The conclusion summarizes the points made with respect to the question asked. An answer plan or outline laid out listing the points to be developed in the real answer given can go a long way in enhancing the correctness and coherence of your final answer. In subject like Economics, Commerce, Geography, some questions in Government, Agricultural Science, Food and Nutrition: most examinations at the certificate level are structured in such a way that answers are best presented as brief definitions followed by numbered points with each point further developed with one or two sentences instead of use of a planned structure. Therefore, precise knowledge of concepts of the subjects and associated knowledge surrounding the concepts is  needed to be able to answer questions in these subjects adequately.
In the pure sciences and technical subjects, most essay questions are either short structured questions or they are questions that are calculation based Such subjects include Physics, Chemistry, Applied Electricity, Biology, Mathematics, Further Mathematics Question structures are phrased using words like “define”, “state”, “list”, “describe”, “explain”, “state the differences between”, “give”, “identify, diagram related questions/sketch” “numerical/calculation questions”. In these subjects, unless experimental procedures are required, questions on “describe” or “explain” do not require long write ups. In three to four sentences, the necessary points should have been made. For the short structured questions in these subjects, while required answers should be briefly written, the response given must answer the question as precisely as possible. Thus, precision takes the place of details. Consequently, concepts in these subjects must be mastered as much as possible so that they can be precisely given as answers to examination questions if asked.

In any type of exam question you answer, you will be judged critically, on how you communicate your answers across to the examiners as well as what you demonstrate, you have learnt and understood in any given subject within time content of your answer.

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