What are some strategies for improving performance on an essay exam?

Expert Answers
Kristen Lentz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The biggest key to doing well on an essay test is preparation.  Whether your teacher has given you the essay questions in advance or not, you can prepare for an essay test beforehand, so your knowledge for the essay test will be organized and well-conceived. 

Start by making an outline of the possible topics that the teacher has emphasized in class.  If your professor or teacher has given you the prompts already, then you can skip this part and immediately begin preparing your response.  Even though you cannot bring notes or an outline into class the day of the test, thinking about the material in advance will help you be better prepared.

Items for consideration:

  • Important facts, names, historical references
  • Quotes (especially if the test is literary analysis).
  • Literary Focus: Characterization, Themes, Conflict, Figurative Language, Tone.
  • Possible Thesis statements

Depending on if you have enough time, you could even choose to take your review materials you have created into the teacher to get his or her opinion on your preparation.  This strategy will help you see if you need to prepare more in any one specific area.