Tips for Answering Essay Questions

General Paper Home Tuition

Exams always come with varied types of questions. There can be parts that include choices for every question while others experiment by matching pairs that go together. There are also others where it asks you to identify what is being described. One of the most common exam questions is also the essay question. They seek answers in the form of phrases and paragraphs.

For tutors, they are already very familiar with essay-type questions as they also prepare such questions for their students, especially in preparation for their O-levels. Students are required to provide support, elaborate, and present their views in an essay format, particularly in courses like the humanities where there are case studies and structured-essay questions. There are also cases in subjects such as Science where the question may ask you to describe and explain a certain process, for example with the division of cells or photosynthesis.

Oftentimes though, students find essay-type questions to be tricky. After all, it’s easier to answer in one word or short phrases rather than give an explanation. It can also be easy for them to go off the topic and dance around the question without actually answering it. However, essay questions actually benefit students as it helps in organizing their thoughts and opinions as well as strengthening their writing skills. We have gathered a few ways to help you in answering essay questions.

1. Plan your essay

Of course, the first step towards everything is to plan. However, not planning essays is one of the most common mistakes students do when answering essay questions. This will then lead them to go astray from the topic since they just jump straight to the question and then, later on, realize that they have missed the point of the question or have left out some that could help strengthen their answer.

The best way to go about this is to jot down your ideas on the question first. This will help you get every idea you have on paper so you don’t forget or miss any point you want to bring up. And then, plan how you will go about your essay. Will it be argumentative of your point or more persuasive? This way, you would know before you write the first word of your essay what approach you will be using and how you can get your point across in the most effective way.

If you want to practice doing this, we suggest doing essay exercises. Don’t immediately go and write an essay. Instead, write down notes and your key points and outline a draft before writing the entire essay.

2. Use structure and formats

It is crucial to follow a structure when responding to essay questions. Structure is important because it keeps your thoughts and points organized as well as it helps with the flow of your essay as well. It will also help outlining your points easier. Some formats and structures can be remembered easily through acronyms such as MEAL which stands for Main idea, Evidence, Analysis, and Link. You can also use other structures such as PEEL (Point, Evidence, Elaboration, Link) or MEAEAL (Main point, Evidence, Analyze evidence, Evidence, Analyze evidence, Link).

If you are having trouble remembering formats, you can ask your home tutor to print out a template for you to use, but once you get used to it, you are bound to remember it every time you write an essay. We also suggest experimenting with which formats and structures work best for you and the topic.

3. Make use of evidence

Another essential piece that shouldn’t be missing when writing essays or answering essay questions is evidence. You need to have them to back up whatever claim you want to raise. They support your points and make your answers more credible. Use facts, statistics, research findings, or quotes to help as your evidence. However, make sure that your evidence also comes from valid and credible resources. If you put in evidence that is not valid, it may make your essay answer unreliable and lack depth.

You may be asking, how to do this? After all, it’s not always that you have those evidence in mind or memorized. We suggest highlighting key points and important information such as dates or events when you are studying. This is even more useful for subjects like History, Literature, or Social Studies. That way, you are more likely to remember these details to use as evidence when writing your essay.

4. Don’t forget to practice

Encourage yourself to practice answering essay questions as one of the finest strategies to assist them. When you practice answering this type of question, you are more likely to become used to it. Additionally, it also helps you build a routine in answering them such as planning your essay to actually writing it. By creating this habit that follows a routine, it will also help you effectively use your time in answering these questions during exams and structuring your essay in a more logical manner.

Of course, this may be a burden for some students. But practice does make perfect, or as close to it. And you will be thankful for all your hard work later when you get that A for the exam.

5. Keep up with real-world happenings

Real-world experience is frequently accepted as an answer to structured essay questions in Social Studies or Geography. Expose yourself to news about real-world happenings or events that could help you in your essay and that you may include in your answers. Be updated with the news and read articles that may come up during research. One of the best techniques is to always keep up with the newest discoveries as this would help make your essay more credible. If there is a question about a certain topic that you have heard or seen the latest news that relates to it, it will make your essay more interesting and will also provide further evidence.


Answering essay type of question may be daunting for many students and you may have difficulties in doing so. However, always remember that you just need to present your ideas in the most concise and coherent way to get your point across more effectively. Add in credible evidences and you have yourself a solid essay answer.



Carelle is a teacher who has been through the ups and downs of the teacher and learner life. She wishes for every learner to gain educational satisfaction that will help embody the people they want to be in the future.

Tell Carelle Below What You Think About Her Post!

About FamilyTutor!

FamilyTutor is an established home tuition agency in Singapore! We match suitable home tutors for our clients not just to improve the students' academic grades, but also to build a strong rapport and meaningful relationship with the students and even the their whole family. FamilyTutor put every student in good hands!

If you need an excellent home tutor, feel free to call/WhatsApp us at +65 8777-2168! Our matching service is free!

Related Posts!

Follow Us On Facebook!

Our Service!

Loving Our Content?

Join our exclusive mailing list today!

Email Marketing