Essay Test Taking Strategies

Standardized Test Taking Strategies

Essay tests are a great way to evaluate student knowledge through all levels of thinking skills from What is…? to Interpret this. or Criticize that. Students will practice essay test-taking strategies using Boom Learning. 

Like all test types, essay questions have advantages as well as disadvantages. One advantage is students are less likely to guess. Another advantage is that students must study more to take this type of test. Students can also demonstrate their ability to organize thoughts, express opinions, and show creativity. Disadvantages for essay tests include they take a long time to grade plus grading is subjective. Another disadvantage is that essay tests cover only a small amount of content compared to selection types of tests.

This series of blog posts provides practical test-taking strategies:

This is Part 5 in a five-part series.

Check out

1 – Multiple Choice Questions

2 – True/False Questions

3 – Matching Test

4 – Fill in the Blanks Test Taking Tips

To make the material student-friendly as well as more interesting, I have created a free Boom deck with alternating facts and questions. This game-like activity is sure to keep students engaged as they learn more about test-taking. You will find a link to the Boom deck at the bottom of this post.

Get the Fifth Boom Learning Essay Test Taking Strategies Deck here.

The Boom Card Lesson Script for Essay Test Taking Strategies

Preparing for the Test

  • Before the test, review how the test will be graded. Will a rubric be used? If so, learn what is expected to make a perfect score.
  • Verbs are keys to understanding exactly what you are being asked. Learn what some common verbs mean.
Brief Account

  • summarize
  • outline
  • state (tell main points)

 

Meaning of a Concept

  • define
  • clarify
  • describe
  • explain
Explain

  • trace (order of events)
  • outline
  • diagram (draw a chart, plan, or graphic representation in your answer)
  • demonstrate (show how a concept or thing can be used)
  • enumerate (outline by recounting one by one)
  • illustrate (give examples)
  • analyze (break into parts)
Give Reasons For

  • account for
  • defend
  • argue
  • debate
  • contend
  • justify
  • prove
Assess

  • evaluate
  • criticize
  • evaluate
  • discuss (present pros and cons)
  • critique (present strengths and weaknesses)
Relationship

  • contrast (differences)
  • compare (similarities)
  • distinguish
  • differentiate
  • relate
  • classification (grouping by characteristics)  
Combining Information from Several Sources

  • formulate (create something new)
  • interpret (give a judgment)

Question

Match each question verb with what you must do in your essay.

1. _________ Analyze A. give examples
2. _________ Classification B.  group items into categories
3. _________ Compare/Contrast C. give the meaning
4. _________ Cause/Effect D. give a brief account
5. _________ Define E. show similarities and differences between two things)
6. _________ Describe F. present pros and cons
7. _________ Discuss G. pick apart of the whole
8. _________ Illustrate H. tell what happened and why
9. ________ Summarize I. explain in detail
Answer Key

Match each question verb with what you must do in your essay.

1. ___G___ Analyze A. give examples
2. ___B___ Classification B.  group items into categories
3. ___E___ Compare/Contrast C. give the meaning
4. ___H___ Cause/Effect D. give a brief account
5. ___C___ Define E. show similarities and differences between two things
6. ___I___ Describe F. present pros and cons
7. ___F___ Discuss G. pick apart of the whole
8. ___A___ Illustrate H. tell what happened and why
9. ___D___ Summarize I. explain in detail

 

While Taking the Test

  1. Read the question carefully. Circle the verbs in the question. Make sure you know what the question is asking you to do.
  2. Organize your thoughts before writing. On a separate piece of paper outline the main idea and the supporting details. This is a good time to jot down dates, formulas, and other important information you need to include in the essay.
  3. Write neatly. If a teacher can’t read your essay, you will receive a lower grade. Using erasable blue ink is a good option. Erasing is much better than crossing out words which makes your paper look messy and difficult to read.
  4. Reword the question into an introduction for your essay.
  5. In your introductory paragraph, write a thesis statement.
  6. In the body of your essay, provide supporting points to back up your thesis statement. Include examples and charts to make your answer clear and more exact. Including numbered items or bulleted points when applicable helps shows the main points of your essay. Usually, more detail equals a better grade if the details are on-topic and relevant information.
  7. Use paragraphs (2 to 6) in the body of your essay to break up ideas. Remember, quality is always preferable to quantity.
  8. Conclude with a brief summary.
  9. Proofread your answers for grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

Question

Write T for True and F for False.

_____ Longer essays receive better grades.

_____ Write a long, detailed introduction for your essay.

_____ Take a few minutes before you begin writing an essay to plan what you will say.

_____ You will receive a higher score on an essay question if you write everything you know about the topic asked.

_____ Messy handwriting lowers your grade on an essay quiz.

_____ Divide your essay into paragraphs.

Answer Key

Write T for True and F for False.

__F___ Longer essays receive better grades.

__F___ Write a long, detailed introduction for your essay.

__T___ Take a few minutes before you begin writing an essay to plan what you will say.

__F___ You will receive a higher score on an essay question if you write everything you know about the topic asked.

__T___ Messy handwriting lowers your grade on an essay quiz.

__T___ Divide your essay into paragraphs.

 

Free Essay Test Taking Strategies Activities

In this mini lesson, students read test taking tips to help prep for essay questions standardized testing.The free Boom Learning activity is great for upper elementary including 4th, 5th, and 6th graders.
In this mini lesson, students read test taking tips to help prep for essay questions standardized testing.The free Boom Learning activity is great for upper elementary including 4th, 5th, and 6th graders.
In this mini lesson, students read test taking tips to help prep for essay questions standardized testing.The free Boom Learning activity is great for upper elementary including 4th, 5th, and 6th graders.
In this mini lesson, students read test taking tips to help prep for standardized testing.The free Boom Learning activity is great for upper elementary including 4th, 5th, and 6th graders.

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