Jumping Straight Into Answering a Question without Proper Planning:
You read a question and you know the answer. Do you immediately raise your pen or pencil and start writing away? If yes, how many times have you encountered the following scenarios?
- You are halfway through your answer and then you realise that your answer is wrong!
- You are penning a new paragraph when you realise that it should have come before a previous paragraph!
- You are halfway through a point you are trying to make before you realise that you have already written it in a previous paragraph!
- You are writing about a new idea and then you realise that it should have been discussed together with another idea that you have already written!
- You realise you have left out an important point in a previous paragraph but there is no space for you to insert it! Therefore, you are forced to write this point in the margin of the paper or somewhere away from the paragraph. Then you draw a long line to connect this sentence to the paragraph.
- You have finished the answer but realise that the paragraphs need to be rearranged! Therefore, you resort to numbering the first paragraph as (1), the second paragraph as (5), the third paragraph as (2), and so on so forth.
If you have encountered any of the above scenarios, and are still running into such situations, would you want to avoid them in future?
The solution to the above problems is proper planning. Proper planning ensures that you have considered all the major aspects of the question before you start to write your answer. It would save you much time later when you write the answer. A carefully planned answer would also get more marks than an unplanned or poorly planned answer.
Below are the suggested steps in planning an answer to a question:
- Always spend a minute or two thinking through a question.
- Underline the key words in the question and ask yourself what kind of answer the question demands.
- Make quick notes in point form as you brainstorm for all the relevant points and ideas that come to your mind.
- Group all the related points and ideas together into main ideas.
- Ask yourself whether you have enough main ideas. A long question typically requires at least three main ideas in its answer.
- Ask yourself whether you have too many or too few points for a particular main idea.
- If more than half of your answer is about one main idea only, while the other main ideas make up the rest of your answer, you are most likely paying unequal attention to each main idea and your answer will be lopsided.
- Finally, plan how you wish to approach the question and structure your answer accordingly.