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Staying Focused: a Guide to Writing Essays that Answer the Question

It is a common situation when you hand in your essay thinking that it is an excellent piece of writing because it contains your best ideas and most ingenious points. Even though you are not totally convinced that all your points directly relate to the question you were asked, you are sure that your essay is more creative and inventive than the one that has directly answered the question.

However, when you get your essay back, you realize that it was not met with the praise you expected. A number of your points are marked as irrelevant, and the total grade is rather low. The tutor’s note below your text says that your essay contains some good ideas, but you didn’t manage to answer the question.

Such situations might have happened to many students and each time they cause deep frustration. Poor grades and criticism seem unfair since you have done a lot of work and eventually fell in love with your ideas and your entire essay. Thus, you still have no doubts about its brilliance and when your tutor says that a certain paragraph is totally irrelevant, you just can’t accept it. Even if one or two points are a little off-topic, why can’t they be used to help an essay stand out? You were confident that your tutor would prefer reading something different instead of the same points in every essay, just because they directly answer the question.

If you have faced such situations, there are two important things you should realize. The first thing is that you have to change something. The overall success of your studies depends on the ability to work out and organize your ideas in a way that convincingly answers the question. The second thing is that you should have the title of your essay as its basic focus the whole way through.

What does it mean from the practical point of view? It means that you should be able to present your thoughts and knowledge in a way that will ensure you the marks you deserve. Writing an excellent essay is quite simple. It is not always necessary to be extremely original, demonstrate a multitude of ideas, or use an unbelievably beautiful language. Although these factors can improve your essay, what you actually need to do is carefully answer the question using a limited number of words. It may sound obvious, but many students forget to stick to the topic throughout the entire essay. You should actually answer the question in every single paragraph, each time supporting your answer with the facts and other evidence. You should lead your reader through your essay, explaining every idea in details and pointing out where exactly you have answered a question.

Some students may say it is easier said than done and prefer to google “write my college essay for me.” It is also one of the ways to get your work done. However, in this article, you will learn some easy recommendations that will help you create an essay that addresses the question as precisely and thoroughly as possible.  

You Should Exactly Determine What Your Question Is

Lots of students don’t take enough time to study a question. As a result, they fail to identify exactly what they are expected to do. Instead, they write the essays they want and get average grades, if not worse.

What you should do is look for the directions in the question as they will tell you what kind of essay you have to write. These directions can be obtained by identifying the keywords in the question that, if interpreted properly, will give you direct instructions on what you should do.

Achieve a Basic Understanding of Your Topic

Before immersing yourself deeply into the research, you should make sure you have a basic understanding of the topic you are given. Otherwise, you can get carried away once you read a certain source. If you have sufficient background knowledge, you will be able to develop a critical approach to your sources and stay close to your question. To develop this basic knowledge, you can use various online resources, including Wikipedia. If you have already studied this topic in class, you can consult your notes to refresh your memory of the information.

Be Explicit

You should use persuasive language to demonstrate how the points you are making answer the question. Some students get low grades even though their points are thoughtful and relevant. The reason is that they fail to impress the tutors with their arguments. What you should do is use various methods to emphasize how your point is really answering the question.

Honestly Assess Whether a Point is Relevant before Using It

It is not important how impressive, interesting, or creative your point is if it is completely off topic. It is not an excuse if you are panicking and can’t figure out any other points that are more appropriate and do answer the question. If a point is irrelevant, you should delete it. Using irrelevant points is not only a waste of time but can also work against you. If you include off-topic material in your essay, you will make it hard for the readers to follow your argument, and eventually their impression of your really good points may fade.

Make a Plan

Once you defined the essence of your question and obtained all the background information on the topic, you should write a plan of your essay. The level of detail in your plan depends on the type of the assignment. For example, in a coursework essay, a plan should be very detailed while in an exam context, it may consist of just a few lines.

You plan should precisely indicate which material you will use in each paragraph. It is important that your plan contains a specific sentence at the end of each point that demonstrates how exactly that point will answer the question. If you write it out at the planning stage, it will not only clarify your ideas but will also help you make sure that your point is relevant. If you have problems formulating this final sentence in regard to your question, it may show that you have gone off-topic.

How to Begin and End Your Paragraphs

If you want to be favorably marked for having properly addressed the question in your essay, you should convince your readers that your entire text answers the question. One of the ways to achieve this is by correctly organizing the beginnings and endings of the paragraphs. You should treat your readers like children. Explain them in details what you are going to say and how it will answer the question. After having said it, you should actually answer the question in the middle of a paragraph and then briefly summarize how you have come to this specific conclusion.

It is not supposed to sound clumsy or repetitive. Each paragraph should start with a sentence that briefly tells what you are going to discuss and how this information answers the question. In the middle of a paragraph, you should provide your examples and evidence. The last sentence should be strong and persuasive, establishing a clear link to your question.

Practice Makes Perfect

The best way to practice answering the question properly is to write the essay plans on various topics. You should not write an entire essay but simply create a plan. You may take any essay questions, including those from your past papers or just choose the questions you are interested in. Then, you should do the following exercise for each of them:

  • Write a hypothesis

  • Write a tentative plan for each of the paragraphs

  • Write down the first and last sentences of each paragraph

Once you do that, you can ask your tutor or a friend to look through and comment on your plans.

Working Through Your Reading List

When you try too hard to stick to the question you’ve been asked, you may face another danger: your approach to the topic may become too narrow. Fearing to make a step aside, you may limit your points only to the views and facts that are on the surface. First, you should work with the reading list you have been given. Try to study as many books from the list as you can. You don’t necessarily have to read all of them thoroughly, but you should be able to figure out the main points that are relevant to your essay. You may start with the general sources and then proceed to the more specialized literature. Moving from general to specific is a kind of framework you can apply to your research.

Furthermore, you have an opportunity to show your interest, intelligence, and knowledge by reading the books that are not included in your reading list. It will give you a solid background to form a comprehensive point of view and compare it with the opinions of other researchers. You can even present the controversial points of view to cover all aspects of the question.

Google “write my college essay for me”, and you will have the opportunity to get examples of the coherent essays that utilize the techniques and recommendations listed above.

Research Every Aspect of the Argument

To continue the point made in the previous section, you should not rely too much on one source, even if it is your textbook and you haven’t been given any other instructions. It is a good academic practice to consider various opinions. Since you need to present a balanced argument in your essay, make sure you have researched a range of perspectives on the issue you are tackling. Note down different arguments and complete them using the respective facts and evidence. Thus, you will be able to easily incorporate them into your essay and form a logical structure of your text.

When researching a topic, pay attention to all the names that you come across, particularly to those that you notice more than just once. It is a good idea to learn more about these people, even if you have not discussed them in the classroom. Knowing the context of the topic, issue, or event you are writing about is vital at any academic level. Therefore, all influential figures are especially worth learning about.   

Tell the Reader What Other People Say

You can also diversify your essay, providing the examples of what other writers say about your subject.

You should do as much investigation as you can. As a result, you may be able to come up with a unique approach and support it with the facts that no one else has found. You will still be able to stay close to your topic. However, your points and arguments will be deep and comprehensive and will demonstrate your profound knowledge of the subject.  

However, you should not concentrate too much on the opinions of other writers and scholars. Although presenting diverse views on your subject is important, you should not overuse quotes in your essay. The essay that consists only of the summary of what other authors say will hardly get you the highest grades, even if the points of these authors are relative to your topic.

What you should do is mix the quotations with your own opinions. Tell the readers whether you agree or disagree with other authors and make sure to substantiate your point of view. It will show that you have not only collected tons of material on the topic, but also studied it critically and made up your own mind. Whatever topic you have, showcasing your critical thinking will always add to your essay.  

Finally, you should never forget about providing the most convincing evidence. Whatever points you want your readers to agree or disagree with, you should be able to convince them of their accuracy. Otherwise, you may sound shallow, and your points, even if linked to the topic, will be weak and unimpressive.

All the mentioned recommendations will help you avoid the comments about the irrelevance of your essay and provide you with important techniques on how to stay focused on a topic and cover it comprehensively. Even if the specific question you are asked seems extremely close to the one you would like to write about, you should not be tempted to wander off the topic. High marks and favorable feedback can be obtained only by answering the given question. The tutors always have their reasons to ask you that specific question, and when you start exploring it, you may find out that it is rather beneficial. You may also search for “write my college essay for me” if you need more help writing the excellent essays that stick to the topic.


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