Examination: Tips on writing a good essay

General Criteria for writing Essay

1.A good essay is a coherent one, which has a clear introduction, thesis statement & conclusion.

2.It needs to be well organized- one central idea in each paragraph. The central idea should be well elaborated by giving specific examples & evidences

3.The grade for essay question does not primarily depend on how many points/ ideas candidates present but the totality of the essay in terms of the quality of writing, organization, coherence & convincing explanation.

Study connections between ideas. Your instructor is not looking for a collection of unrelated pieces of information. Rather, he or she wants to see that you understand the whole picture, i.e., how the generalizations or concepts create the framework for the specific facts, and how the examples or details fill in the gaps. So, when you’re studying, try to think about how the information fits together.

Prepare practice questions. Try to prepare for questions that are likely to be asked. If your instructor has given you the questions themselves or a study sheet in advance, practice answering those questions. Otherwise, try to anticipate questions your instructor is likely to ask and practice those. At the very least, outline how you would answer the test questions; however, it’s better to actually write out the answers. That way, you will know where you need to study more.


Again, while you’re taking the exam, remember that it’s not simply what you say or how much you say, but HOW you say it that’s important. You want to show your instructor that you have mastered the material.

Plan your time. Although you will be working under pressure, take a few minutes to plan your time. Determine how many minutes you can devote to each answer. You will want to devote most of your time to the questions that are worth the most points, perhaps answering those questions first. On the other hand, you might want to answer first the questions that you are best prepared for.

Read the questions thoroughly. Take a few minutes before writing your essay to read the question carefully in order to determine exactly what you are being asked to do. Most essay exam questions are carefully worded and contain specific instructions about WHAT you are to write about as well as HOW you should organize your answer.

Plan your answer. Jot down the main points you intend to make as you think through your answer. Then, you can use your list to help you stick to the topic. In an exam situation, it’s easy to forget points if you don’t write them down.

Write out your essay, using good writing techniques. As was said earlier, essay exams are like other essays, so use the same good writing strategies you use for other kinds of writing. Keep in mind that your purpose is to persuade your reader—the examiner—that you know the material. (taken from Indiana University Writing Tutorial Services website)

What if I don’t remember when Lenin/Stalin or Hitler ruled, etc etc?

the purpose of finals is not testing your memorization skills.

If you don’t remember these facts, Don’t mention them. Just state what is obvious, Stalin ruled Russia after Lenin’s death/ or in 20th century instead of committing factual errors.

But if you make things up like above, it s negates your mark.

How to avoid from committing factual errors?

Dates, skip them unless you are sure. For French rev. is suffice to know late 18th cent and to have a sense of chronology, FR 1st then Nap. , Cong Vienna, WW1, WW2, Cold War.

Don’t memorize things blindly, but understand—things are connected Versailles-Hitler-WW2- CW

Distinguish between what’s important and trivial 

Don’t simply read. Do a lot of practice questions

Factual Errors: Samples

WW1 happened primarily due to the rise of Hitler and Nazi in Germany

One contribution of the French revolution is the rapid industrialization

Congress of Vienna was held to decide the future of Europe after WW2

To have a better idea on how to write a good essay, read the following two samples(one is better than the other- you have to read and find out on your own). This should give you a better idea about writing a good coherent essay.

Question: Did Napoleon’s reign bring more good or harm to the French and European people?


Introduction: Napoleon I (1769-1821), emperor of the French, whose imperial dictatorship ended the French Revolution (1789-1799) was one of the greatest military commanders of all time. Napoleon was born on August 15, 1769, in Ajaccio, Corsica, and was given the name Napoleone (in French his name became Napoleon Bonaparte). He was the second of eight children of Carlo (Charles) Buonaparte and Letizia Ramolino Buonaparte, both of the Corsican-Italian gentry.

Para. 2 Central Idea 1 Overview of His Career: Over the course of little more than a decade, the armies of France under his command fought almost every European power, often simultaneously, and acquired control of most of continental Europe by conquest or alliance. The disastrous invasion of Russia in 1812 marked a turning point. Following the Russian campaign and the defeat at Leipzig in October 1813, Napoleon abdicated in April 1814 after the Allies invaded France. He was exiled to the island of Elba. He staged a comeback but was defeated at Waterloo on 18 June 1815.

Para 3 Idea 2 Contributions He modernized French army by several revolutionary governments, to score several major victories. His campaigns are studied at military academies all over the world and he is widely regarded as one of the greatest commanders ever to have lived. Napoleon is credited with introducing the concept of the modern professional conscript army to Europe, an innovation which other states eventually followed. He did not introduce many new concepts into the French military system, borrowing mostly from previous theorists and the implementations of preceding French governments, but he did expand or develop much of what was already in place Aside from his military achievements, Napoleon is also remembered for the establishment of the Napoleonic Code.

Para 4 Code of Napoleon

The Napoleonic Code was adopted throughout much of Europe and remained in force after Napoleon’s defeat. Professor Dieter Langewiesche of the University of Tübingen describes the code as a “revolutionary project” which spurred the development of bourgeois society in Germany by expanding the right to own property and breaking the back of feudalism. Langewiesche also credits Napoleon with reorganizing what had been the Holy Roman Empire made up of more than 1,000 entities into a more streamlined network of 40 states providing the basis for the German Confederation and the future unification of Germany under the German Empire in 1871

Conclusion Napoleon is seen by some as having ended lawlessness and disorder, and the wars he fought as having served to export the Revolution to the rest of Europe. The movements of national unification and the rise of the nation state, notably in Italy and Germany, may have been precipitated by the Napoleonic rule of those areas. The Napoleonic Code was adopted throughout much of Europe and remained in force after Napoleon’s defeat.


Paragraph 1(Introduction). Napoleon is definitely one of the most intriguing figures in history. Despite his preeminence in history, it is difficult to evaluate his legacy and to determine whether he is a hero or a tyrant. Napoleon did bring about some positive changes in Europe such as the introduction of the Napoleon Code and French liberal ideas in countries he conquered. Nevertheless, his negative impacts actually outweigh the positives. Therefore, in this essay I argue that Napoleon should be primarily viewed as a villain instead of a hero

Paragraph 2 Central Idea #1 (Undemocratic domestic policies)

The French revolution emphasized liberty and democracy. … However, during Napoleon’s reign of France he introduced several policies and laws, which restricted individual freedom. One of the most restrictive policies he introduced was to suppress his opponents (primarily royalists and republicans). To achieve that he used the instruments of police state: secret agents, arbitrary arrest and executions. Moreover Napoleon shaped public opinion to prevent hostile criticism of his rule and to promote popular support for his rule and policies. In doing so, he ended freedom of press in France. These examples clearly show that Napoleon’s domestic policies were indeed undemocratic and terrible.

New Paragraph Idea #2 ( Wars & Conquering other countries in Europe)

During the height of his power in Europe (ca. 1810) Napoleon established his control throughout the Continental Europe other than The Great Britain. His achievement was definitely impressive. But, how did Napoleon achieve that? Did Europeans willingly submit to Napoleon? The answer is the Napoleonic War. It is widely accepted that war is a horrible thing. The argument that he bring more good than harm can easily be refuted by this horrible act. Indeed, Napoleon should be blamed for the outbreak of the Napoleonic War. Indeed, he never flinched when facing the prospect of war and destruction for thousands, friend or foe, and turned his search of undisputed rule into a continuous cycle of conflict throughout Europe, ignoring treaties and conventions alike. Even if other European powers continuously offered Napoleon terms that would have restored France’s borders to situations only dreamt by the Bourbon kings, he always refused compromise, and only accepted surrender. The war had many horrible consequences—hundreds of thousands of people lost their lives, and defeated countries were conquered by France and even worse in Spain, Napoleon removed the existing King and replaced him with his own family member.

New Paragraph Idea #3 Policies towards women

In addition to the problems mentioned earlier, Napoleon also did not advance the position of women in the society. For example, The Code of Napoleon denied equal treatment to women in their relations with their husbands and fathers. Indeed, the Code made women inferior to their husbands in matters of property, adultery and divorce. Moreover, Napoleon did not consider education for girls important. Instead, Napoleon believed that marriage is their whole destination. Indeed, these reflected Napoleon personal attitude and general view of the times toward women.

Conclusion: re-state your major argument. How should we remember the enigmatic Napoleon? Was he admirable or devilish who brought war and kill millions of people to satisfy his ego? Was he a betrayer or confirmer of the French Rev. ideas? Napoleon is definitely a very controversial figure. That explains why people continue to debate these questions until today. In this essay, I argue that Napoleon, despite his achievements and contributions should be primarily remembered as a “bad guy” instead of a hero due to three major reason: his authoritarian domestic policies, war and conquest of Europe and policies toward women.


8 Responses to “Examination: Tips on writing a good essay”

  1. Ginris Mcvew Says:

    Thank you very much,sir😀

  2. marco Says:

    thx for tips.

    meski rada gak ngerti. hehe

  3. zayan yassin Says:

    Sir, im surprise to find that our play was also part of this wonderful documentary. surely based on the same book. please have a look.

  4. Silence Says:


  5. theiceworld Says:

    i have read the second one, yup…it’s quite good

  6. theiceworld Says:

    sir, in my opinion, the first essay only states facts but he/she did not analyze the facts. This essay does not really answer the question, however. Second essays is better than the first. Regarding the poll, i can’t vote any of the answer given because none of them meet my opinion. So i leave this comment

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