Essay writing prompts: identify key points

Students often perform poorly on writing assignments because they do not pay attention to the prompt. Whether the essay is to be written in a timed setting or it needs to be written after significant research has been conducted, without following the prompt students are asking for potential problems with their grades. It is actually rather easy to understand a prompt by identifying key points to craft an essay that meets the requirements and earns a top grade.

In many cases, writing prompts will include a situation that is designed to get the students thinking about the prompt and examples they could use when writing about it. For example, you might get a situation about students who have been ordered to start wearing school uniforms. The situation could include the reasons why the school district decided to require uniforms as well as what was happening with clothes before the uniform code was instituted. Most of the situations will be at least one paragraph with several sentences.

After the situation is presented, the question will be given. The question will relate to the situation and ask the writer to pick a position on the issue. In most cases, the question will be a yes or no question. Once you have read the situation and question, these are the steps to take:

  1. Go back into the situation and highlight what you consider to be key points. If you are writing about uniforms, look into the reasons why the school did what it did. Highlight anything that you might be able to refer to in your essay.
  2. Choose a side and stick to it. One of the worst thing that students do is give a wishy-washy answer. Since most prompts are yes or no questions, a wishy-washy answer would be “maybe” or “sometimes yes and sometimes no.” Even if you really are in the middle of the topic, pick a side for your essay.
  3. Create your claim. This is the best way to work the key points into the essay. Your claim should include some of the words from the question. So, if the essay topic is about school uniforms, you should be sure to use the words “school uniforms” somewhere in the topic.
  4. Use your highlighted points in the body of the essay. Those key point will show your instructor that you actually paid attention to the assignment.

Posted by November 23rd, 2016