Chirag Patel

The Exam & Essay Cheat Sheet: Friendly, bite-sized FAQs to get your best grades in exams and essays and stop losing easy marks

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For a few years, I ran a student support service at a university. Over that time, I discovered that most students were tripping up for easily avoidable reasons, and came in with the same problems each time. Contained herein are solutions for the most common student difficulties, including:
How should I prepare to write my essay? How much time should I leave?
What am I being asked to do? Shouldn’t I Just read everything I can and then start?
What is the difference between a claim and an argument? What counts as evidence?
What does the question mean?
What does critically analyse mean?
What’s the difference between objective and subjective? Why does it matter?
Why is it important to define my terms, and how should I do it?
How do I structure my essay?
How long should paragraphs be?
What is a topic sentence?
What makes a good introduction?
How do I write my conclusion?
What does a completed essay structure look like?
How do I sound academic? Just using the words and phrases without understanding them is getting me in trouble…
How do I avoid using or showing my opinion?
What language can’t I use?
How do I make my writing formal and impersonal?
How should I read? I don’t understand what these people are saying…
How and why should I take notes?
Why do I keep losing marks for referencing?
How should I prepare before the exam?
How should I manage my time?
Why do I lose marks on multiple choice questions?
What to do if you have absolutely no idea what’s going on.
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