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Interpreting an Essay Question

Posted on September 12, 2011 in categories: Uncategorized

The process of interpreting an essay question is crucial to writing not just a successful essay, but will also help you avoid spending hour barking up the wrong tree, doing research and taking notes that you cannot use. When you look at an essay question, your interpretation should give you a better understanding and insight in to what the question (and examiner) are looking for in your work.

Having interpreted an essay question correctly works in your favor by giving you the chance to bring your own ideas and insights in to the essay at a very early stage. This will prevent your work from being another routine and predictable answer that recycled dominant theory or rewrites an acceptable answer.

Interpreting essay questions is about two things:

  1. Structure: If you interpret the question, it will give you the structure your essay should follow, and also outline at least a few of the relevant issues that will be a part of the body of your answer.
  2. Range of ability: The examiner is expecting you to demonstrate different abilities in your answer. In particular, they want you to analyze and provide a critical discussion, not describe the topic in detail.

If you know the structure of your answer, and know the details of your arguments, you will be better able to write an essay that analyzes and critically discusses the assigned question. That is what the examiner is looking for.