Review the syllabus or course outline. Be able to list all the major points to be covered and all first level detail points under each major point FROM MEMORY. This will help insure that you remember all the major points to be discussed in any essay question. If you write a great amount of detail about one major pint and leave out two major points, your grade will only be 33%. You must remember to touch on all the major points.
Review the following:
Test yourself before the exam by placing yourself in the professor’s place. Write out questions you think the instructor will ask to test a student’s understanding. Then answer the questions yourself. Check to see if you are correct.
a) Identify what is being asked.
b) Identify the aspects of the topic asked for.
c) Identify the type of activity required to answer (i.e. comparison, contrast, evaluation, etc)
Question: What were the major effects of the Santa Barbara oil spill on the wildlife and legislation?
Answer: The Santa Barbara oil spill resulted in the death of various forms of wildlife and stimulated both the local and national groups to seek preventative legislation.
This is only your beginning sentence. Now, you go into detail about each aspect of the question. Re-writing the question in your answer’s opening sentence helps you remember the major ideas to be included and it lessens the tendency to ramble.