Cracking the Essay Question

Cracking the Essay Question Activity

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See more activities in: Middle School, Test Taking

Your child is struggling to get started on an essay assignment. But it's not going to write itself! How can you get your child started if they're totally stumped? All it takes is a solid plan, man. Here's how to get started:

Choose an essay question from one of your child’s textbooks. It can come from any subject. They may even have a current assignment that you can use as your example.It is always a good idea to choose a question on a topic they are currently studying so they benefit from the knowledge gained while trying this new technique.

Use the following outline to create the perfect essay answer with your child. Don’t write it for them but see how well they do on their own with just a little guidance.

  1. Analyze the question.
    • Circle all direction words, such as "list, compare, trace, or describe. "
    • Underline all key words.
    • Determine the number of parts to the question.
  2. Develop ideas.
    • Brainstorm initial thoughts and ideas
    • Jot a brief outline.
    • Reread the question.
  3. Write out the answer.
    • Restate the question as the first sentence of the answer.
    • Free write, following the simple outline that has already been created.
  4. Polish the free writing carefully, but do not recopy. They may correct spelling errors or add transition words.

These steps can always be transferred to a small note card for easy reference when attempting to write an essay answer. Although, you will quickly find that your child will become so confident in their own writing abilities that they will write a polished answer without the need to refer to these steps!

Liza Jenkins is a middle school Language Arts teacher and private tutor from Maryland. She enjoys spending time with her husband and two children.

Updated on Sep 18, 2014
See more activities in: Middle School, Test Taking
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