By Professor Jacki Thompson Rand, Department of History, University of Iowa The purpose of the college-level essay exam is to compel students to analyze and synthesize the course material.
An essay exam gives you the opportunity to demonstrate a mastery of the material above and beyond the memorization of basic facts. The study of history is, in essence, the study of various interpretations about what happened in the past.
One of the keys to a good essay is a tight organization.
Every essay must have an introduction, a body, a conclusion.
Your conclusions should reiterate the argument you first presented in the introduction and then developed in the body of the essay.
Your conclusion should also indicate the broader significance of the argument you have presented and your appreciation of why this issue is something worth knowing about.
The sample quotation might prompt you to think about the following: After thinking about the implications of the question, but before beginning to write the exam, jot down a brief outline of your argument.
Five minutes spent organizing your argument is worth thirty minutes of aimless writing.
The point of the body, of course, is to substantiate the thesis statement.
The conclusion restates the thesis statement, now acknowledging the evidence put forth in the body of the essay, and suggests some of the broader implications of the argument.