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Going into Detail on Essay Questions

Give reasons for your answers. This phrase requires that you justify your responses and explain in detail the reasons for your answers. It is not enough to simply answer the question by writing a sentence or two.

For example, a question might read, "What was the primary reason for the start of World War I? Give reasons for your answer." This question requires that you write a central fact -- the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand. Then, you must explain why this assassination started the war -- i.e., nationalism and treaties between various European countries. Providing only the main answer without the supporting details usually results in a lower score on the question.

Evaluate or analyze. This type of question normally requires that you make a "judgment call." When asked to evaluate or analyze a situation or an issue, you're being asked for your opinion regarding a matter. However, it is your opinion based on factual information. In other words, you simply can't "make up" an answer.

For example, "Evaluate negative childhood testing experiences on present attitudes toward testing."

Theoretically, you could argue the point that early childhood experiences have no effect on current testing attitudes, or you could argue just the opposite. It's as if there is no correct answer, since you can provide an opinion for either side of an issue. However, you do have to provide supporting evidence for your position.