Writing for Govt 101
Decoding the Question
In order to write a cohesive essay
that covers all the important concepts, it is
crucial that you understand exactly what the
essay question is asking you to do. Certain
keywords in the question will guide to an understanding
of what is expected of you and will suggest
how you should organize your essay. Below are
some keywords commonly found in essay exam questions:
asks for you to define the few
central areas of similarity and difference first,
then expound on the variations in each.
this is similar to comparison,
except that you are being asked to detail only
the differences. In other words, compare in
such a way as to show the differences.
asks for you to disagree with
some position presented. Once you have judged
the position, use reasons to back up your view.
give specific characteristics
by which a concept/thing/event can be recognized.
Tell what it is and what it is not. Begin by
placing it in a general class and then differentiate
it from other members of the class by presenting
boundaries not details.
in this case, avoid generalizations;
detail the features as concisely as possible.
this question is the most vague,
and it allows you to present an answer in any
form. First, decide specifically how you are
going to task out the question. You might want
to quote, then refute, then offer a counter-statement,
then prove or illustrate it, and so forth.
similar to criticize, but allows
you to set forth more than one view on the position.
When you move from one point of view to another,
be careful to signal your changes.
asks for you to define relationships█causal,
temporal, systematic. It asks for you to present
the ¤howË and the ¤why.Ë Give clear and intelligent
reasons for, or the basic principles of something.
May demand for you to account for differences
of opinion or contradictions between theory
use details/examples to show
relationships and interactions. Your two goals
are to (a) find and present supporting details
and (b) to show how they support your views.
translate what something means.
Explain what the author means.
define the proposition that
is to be proven, then give reasons for believing
it. Be sure to present enough strong reasons
in order to convince the reader.
summarize, or condense. First,
describe the main points, then omit the minor
details. The question may ask you to summarize
the work of more than one person to show what
their texts have in common.