6 Essay Steps Define all terms and phrases including the obvious.
What are the relevant Sub-Questions? Who? What? When? Where? Why? Inter-relationships? Cause and Effect? Try to pick out the big sub-questions that get to the focus and intent of the question.
Develop a Matrix where you will organize your sub-questions.
Write an Introduction that includes Context, Blueprint, & Thesis Statement. Combine the most important thesis ideas to create one big Thesis Statement that you will prove in your paper.
Start writing your Body Paragraphs in the order you think will best answer the question. Each box in the matrix will represent a body paragraph. Use the sub-questions to develop topic sentences for your body paragraphs.
Write a conclusion or summary. Be sure to re-state your thesis.
Step 1: DEFINE
All words and phrases in a question must be defined.
Ambiguous words like “most,” “best,” etc. must be defined by the writer.
Instructive phrases like “describe, “discuss,” and “analyze” must be understood.
The reader of the question must be sure of its meaning and intent before proceeding with the writing.
These processes will eventually be done quickly and in the writer’s head. But for now we’ll do them on paper.
These steps must become a habit – always follow your checklist – just like an airplane pilot. Practiced patterns allow a fail-safe response to stressful situations.
Essay: What were the major causes of the French Revolution? In your essay, make sure to discuss political, social, and economic causes. Pay particular attention to the impact of Feudalism.
What does discuss mean? Who, what where, why, how, when, so-what?
What does economic mean? The study of how limited resources are used to satisfy man’s unlimited wants and needs.
What does political mean? The study of who gains political office, what they do when they get there, and how they got there.
What does social mean? Culture or traditions, life styles, attitudes, etc.
What does particular attention mean? Special attention.
What does impact mean? Feudalism as a cause of the revolution
What does Feudalism mean? A class based social system, a domestic system of economics, and a decentralized political system with nobles owing an informal allegiance to a king.
Step 2: SUB-QUESTIONS
Every question has parts that the writer needs to be knowledgeable about. How many questions in the question?
What are the relevant sub-questions? Who? What? When? Where? Why? Inter-relationships? Cause and effect?
By breaking the question into segments it is possible to begin to understand what there is to know about topics
Introduction Example Essay: What were the major causes of the French Revolution?
The economics of the feudal system left France with economic inequities that created deep resentments on the part of the masses. Peasants were required to tithe the church, pay feudal dues, and perform services to land-owning nobles. The developing bourgeoisie was especially resentful as they were contributing mightily to the economic output of France but were paying the highest proportion of taxes even though they were being shut out from any decision-making power. In addition, the workers in the cities were suffering the most from food shortages, inflation, and generally poor economic policy
Essay: What were the major causes of the French Revolution?
The French Revolution was caused primarily by the economic, social, and political inequities left over from the Feudal System. The vast majority of people did not enjoy the privileges experienced by the clergy and the nobles. The catalyst that finally set off the Revolution was the deteriorating economic conditions caused by poor harvests, high tariffs, growing middle class, guild control of industry, and the general lack of leadership skills displayed by Louis XVI. With all of this, it was the ideas of the Enlightenment Thinkers that allowed the mix to finally result in a revolution.
Now that you have some statements you need to organize them in such a manner as to be able to combine them to make a thesis statement.
Pick the big issues first and make sure they are in your thesis.
Fill in with the more minor issues and with reference to specific evidence.
The thesis is the target of the paper. The entire argument revolves around the thesis.
Your thesis can be more than 1 sentence.
Essay: What were the major causes of the French Revolution?
Thesis: The underlying causes of the French Revolution were to be found in the foundations of Feudalism; but wars, poor leadership, and famine were the straws that broke the camel’s back.
For the remainder of the paper, it is absolutely vital that this thesis be constantly referred to. Do no stray from proving the thesis. The thesis, and only the thesis, is the object of the evidence, paragraph, and introduction formation. KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE BALL!!
Step 5: BODY PARAGRAPHS
Develop your paragraphs from each of the boxes in your matrix.
Each paragraph has details that directly support the topic sentence.
Each paragraph has one main idea.
Create a Topic sentence for each of the boxes in your matrix. These will become your topic sentence for your paragraphs.
Remember: Your topic sentence should reflect the main idea of the box.
If you have ideas in the box that don’t belong you need to create another box or move the information to a box that includes ideas from the same topic.
Often reviewing the topics helps spark thinking patterns that allow us to understand the question better, as well as develop more details and examples.
This step is fundamental to eventually seeing how may separate paragraphs one will need in the paper.
Example Essay: What were the major causes of the French Revolution?
How did Feudalism create some of the social, economic and political problems?
What were the social problems? What caused them? How did they cause the Revolution?
What were the economic problems? What caused them? How did they cause the Revolution?
What were the political problems? What caused them? How did they cause the Revolution?
Step 3: MATRIX
The matrix is a method of organizing sub questions so that one is able to distinguish main idea blocks at a glance. It is often the most visual organizational aid available. The matrix is usually developed as a result of thinking about the sub questions.
It can be modified to organize narrative, descriptive and expository essays.
Detail can be placed in the boxes as you brainstorm so that the writing process is fast and efficient. Each box becomes a paragraph. If information doesn’t belong in the box- it doesn’t belong in the paragraph.
The sophisticated writer can even use the matrix to determine which paragraphs should start the paper and which should end the paper. Remember that the holistic graders tend to develop an opinion early, skim the middle, and reinforce their opinion late in the reading. For this reason, it is important to start strong and finish strong. The weakest portion of the paper should be placed in the middle. With the matrix this is visually easy.
Step 4: INTRODUCTION
The introduction serves as the first impression of the paper.
Here you will need to add to your thesis to make an “introduction.”
Graders often times start to form opinions regarding the quality of a paper based on the introduction.
Without a good introduction and thesis statement it is almost impossible to write a good paper.
The introduction is BY FAR the most important paragraph in the paper
Introduction Checklist Context: background information
*You should be able to guess what the question is by reading the introduction!
*NEVER use phrases like “In this essay, I will…” or “This essay will show…” or “My essay will…”
*Do NOT use the words “you” or “your.”
Topic Sentence Examples
Essay: What were the causes of the French Revolution? The most important economic reasons for the French Revolution stemmed from the economic structure of feudalism. Nobles and clergy…
Poor leadership was also a leading cause of the revolution.
Nature and bad luck also contributed to the causes of the French Revolution. Poor harvests…
Step 6: CONCLUSION
The conclusion should reflect the fact that you have thought about the topic.
Re-state your thesis
The following types of questions should be answered in a true conclusion.
How can you use this information?
What related ideas result from having studied this information?
Is there a lesson that you have learned?
Essay: What were the major causes of the French Revolution?
While many factors conspired to create the French Revolution, it was the ideas of the Enlightenment thinkers that created the final form which resulted. All through history, the combinations of factors creating any changes have ultimately been influenced by ideas. Without the ideas of Locke, Montesquieu, and Rousseau, there still would have been unrest and maybe revolution, but the result would not have been the upheaval of the fundamental economic, social, and political systems. The French Revolution is a perfect example of how the themes of history interact to create change.
TM Explanation of Terms Have it = It is physically in the student’s possession.
Comprehensive = It includes all aspects of student’s life (school, chores, social, etc.)
Ahead = There are entries in the days and weeks ahead.
Use it = Items have been checked off and there is evidence that it is a to do list.
Detailed = Specifics are recorded.
Opportunity cost of any activity – you can only do one thing at a time. What will it be?
You cannot buy, replace, or add time.
Managing your time allows peace of mind
Any problem solving eventually boils down to the use of your time.
1st step to responsibility
- Identify the problem
- Set a goal – be positive
- Develop a special plan, small steps help!
- Have a time-line
- Do it! Get Help!
- Review results & modify plan (if needed)!
- Sleep, exercise, recreation
- rest, relaxing
- Personal/physical problems must be solved, isolated, “capsulized.”
Make it fun
Link materials to known things (associations)
Use your imagination
Memory make take hard work
Don’t quit until you’re FINISHED!
Individual “TM Log”
Study schedule (including Fridays & weekends)
Rules to Follow
Keep it with you at all times
Keep everything in it – personal, jobs, school, ph #’s
Write down 3 people’s ph #’s from each class
Be specific & detailed
# day rule – TO DO LIST – not a wish list
Look at it often
20-30 minutes at a time
No phone calls
Hardest First & on Friday
2 hours every night/Stay ahead!
Time Management Specifics
Vocab Quiz Cards 1. Put a question or vocab word on the front.
2. Put the answer on the back
3. Quiz yourself on each one. Simulate conditions of the test.
4. Put into know and don’t know piles.
5. Put a clue on “don’t know” cards before putting pile.
6. Retake “don’t know” cards using clues.
7. Erase clue if you get it right
8. Retest all “don’t knows” until you can do it without clues.
9.Analyze tests & modify type, amount, etc.
Definition: putting another’s written or oral communication into your own words with an emphasis on meaning. Not what it says – but what it means.
a) Increases vocabulary
b) Teaches paragraph understanding & sentence structure practice
-worker and middle class rioted – William IV agrees to reforms
-worked on Constitution (1) but split between moderate middle class and radical workers + kings success in suppressing Austrian Revolts led to dissolution (break-up). William then gave all males the right to vote & elect a legislature (2)
-Prussia was a large German state. All German states met and agreed to unite with Prussian King William as the leader. He rejected it because it was offered by common people. No unification
1. Limited Government: Const.
2. Checks and balances: separations of powers
Power shifted from king to middle class males
Title: The German State Unit: Revolts in Other Parts of Europe
EQ: What democratic changes occurred in Europe?
1. What is the main idea of the paragraph? Title the paragraph (3 words or less)
2. How does this idea relate to past learning?
3. What questions might be on the test that can be found either in the details of the paragraph or its main idea or related materials?
4. What questions does the paragraph bring to our attention? What will you be looking for as you read ahead? What theories or conclusions can be drawn?
How to Study Your Notes
Cover the details and see if you can remember hem by looking at the main ideas and the sub ideas columns
If you have titled those columns well you should have a good chance of remembering the details
If you don’t remember them, MAKE A QUIZ CARD!
Abbreviation of material reduces study time (paraphrasing & selected details)
Organization of materials allows for efficient learning
Thematic understanding is created – the “big picture”
Use previewing setup format and areas to look for.
Try to read material one time only!!
Use close reading strategies. Transfer them to note format.
Study Plan Rules
1. Know what will be on the test! Find out!!
2. Know how the test will be given! Find out!
3. Make a rough guess as to how many hours you will need to study in order to really learn the material!!! (After you have decided what to study and how!)
4. Look at your TM and pencil in times that you can study
5. Find a study partner (or two)!
6. Duplicate the conditions of the test as closely as possible!!
Study until you have covered it all – and you know all you have covered!! (80/80 rule)
Studying for Short Answer Test Questions
Know your facts! These questions require the use of specific examples. Study your quiz cards and vocabulary cards.
Answer the question! Know what all of the terms used in the question mean and what the question is asking.
Organize your answer into paragraphs – each with its own idea. It is easier for the teacher to read and you will score better.
Draw a conclusion if it is appropriate – this lets the teacher know you are thinking about the subject.
5. Make special quiz cards that are more broad and conceptual in nature. You might put them on 4 x6 cards.
Post-Test Analysis What questions did you miss?
Were they in your notes?
If not, why not?
Not in book, lecture, etc.
Why not? Find out! Ask teacher!
In book, but not in notes
Your notes might not be extensive enough.
Your notes might not be appropriate.
If yes, then did you have a quiz card?
No quiz card
Improper note quizzing
Not enough quiz cards
Yes, quiz card
Poor memorization techniques
Inadequate study time
Did you misread the question?
Test matched preparation?
Develop a plan to study more effectively next time.
Multiple Choice Test Strategies
If you have a time limit, you should skip questions that are confusing, long, or require elaborate guessing strategies. Simply mark them & go to the next question & come back if you have time. Always finish the test. Some of the easiest questions will be at the end.
If there is not a penalty for guessing, you must answer every question. A few of your guesses will be correct.
If you must guess, pick the longest answer, or if two are equally long, pick the one farther down the list. (“D” would be a better guess than “C”).
Any answer that includes always, never, all, etc. is usually an incorrect answer.
If two answers are opposites, one is usually correct.
Don’t change an answer without good reason. Your first response is most often correct.
Clues to answers are often found in other questions. Keep alert to these possibilities.
Questions that use “except” at the end should be treated as follows. Simply read the answers & treat them as true or false. Mark them “T” or “F.” The false one is the right answer.
Always eliminate answers by marking them. If more than one is left, use your best guess.
Use all of the time allotted. Return & re-read as many questions as you can. Check for careless errors.
General Test-Taking Strategies
Get a good night sleep and eat a good breakfast.
Visualize the test and its environment (De-sensitize)
Get there early; relax and get in the mood.
Look over the test. (preview)
Read or listen to all instructions.
Decide on a strategy.
How much time do I have?
Are some parts of the test harder than others?
Are some parts of the test worth more?
Which should I answer first? Last?
Begin answering questions as per strategy.
Skip questions that you don’t understand or are too long for the points given.
Mark your test – cross things off, put question marks, etc.
Finish the test and start over.
Ask yourself if any questions have been answered by other questions.
Use your best guessing techniques.
If you had an automatic guess when you first looked at the question, and you haven’t been able to figure it out, then stay with your guess.
Never leave a blank if there is no penalty for guessing.