How to Write an Examination Essay Plan in Just 5 Minutes!


Time is not on your side when it comes to university examination questions, but use it wisely and you should have all the time you need to write a well structured, concise and coherent essay. The temptation when the clock is ticking is to start writing your essay without any advance thought; however, the risk is that this will lead to a random series of points with no logical progression. As a result, some of the points that should be central to your essay answer will not receive the attention they deserve.

Taking just five minutes out of the allotted time to create a quick plan is a necessity, not a luxury. With a little help from Oxbridge Essays, who have plenty more essay writing tips on their G+ page, you’ll be able to structure your essay effectively, and use the rest of your examination time productively.

Why should you write an essay plan?

Essay plans only take five minutes of your time, but help to ensure you cover all of the salient points in your answer. They also add structure to your essay and create a logical progression from one point to the next.

Knowing what’s going to come next in your essay allows you to concentrate on precisely what you’re writing, rather than letting your mind drift onto which points or arguments to present next. Anything that makes you to commit to sticking to the point will increase your chances of producing a coherent argument.

It is impossible to include everything in a timed essay, so you need to choose which material you include, and what order to present it in. Jot down your ideas and arrange them into three of four groups to form the main body of your essay. You should then outline what you’ll include in each section.

Underperformance in examination essay questions is typically the result of:

  1. A failure to answer the question
  2. Inclusion of irrelevant material
  3. Lack of knowledge of the relevant material
  4. Failure to allocate time appropriately

Outlining the points you intend to cover in each section of the essay can help you avoid three of these four common mistakes (if you don’t know the material, there’s no essay plan that can help).

Introduction – The introduction should take a limited form. A simple analysis of your understanding of the question followed by a brief outline of how you intend to answer it will suffice.

Main body – Put your groups of ideas into a logical sequence to help you build your argument. Stick to one main point in each paragraph, and use sources to back up the arguments you make.

Conclusion – This should be a truncated version of a conclusion you would produce for an untimed essay. Make two or three reflections on the main body of your essay and identify one or two questions your essay raises.

Which planning method should you use?

Spider diagrams / visual plansThis type of plan allows you to quickly get down the keywords and phrases which frame the central question. Order your points by numbering the arms of spider diagram; and, if you tend to write too much for essay questions, reduce the number of points you make.

Linear plans – Bullet pointed lists can be used to create a brief outline of the main point for each paragraph. They can also be used to create a more detailed plan with sub-points that contain the references to support each point.

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