Top Tips On Writing An Essay For Your Language Exam

Essay-based exams are a daunting prospect for anyone. Writing a lengthy piece of work to a high standard under pressure is enough to fill any student with dread. Language exams can be even tougher than writing UK essays in your native language. However, there are plenty of ways you can prepare for essay component of your upcoming language exam.

Know the Requirements

You should know exactly what the exam board is going to be looking for weeks, or even months, before the exam date. Without having a clear idea of what is expected of you, the layout of the exam and the type of topics which could come up you won't be able to achieve top marks. If you are in any doubt, don't hesitate to ask your teacher to explain this to you. A good language teacher should also prepare you by giving you mock exams using past papers, so you know exactly what to expect and have time to ask any questions.

Read the Question

It sounds obvious but many students become flustered in an exam situation and fail to read the question correctly. This could result in you writing a perfect language essay on completely the wrong topic! It's unlikely that your examiner will be sympathetic in this situation, so save yourself the heartbreak by taking between five and ten minutes at the start of the exam to read over all the material you have been given. This will give you time to think about everything you've learnt and how best to apply it.

Make a Plan

When you first see the question in your exam, you may be compelled to start writing immediately. However, it's better to take a breather and give yourself time to collect your thoughts. Make a small plan on a separate piece of paper outlining each of your paragraphs and the argument you will present in your essay. This will help your essay to be far more coherent and fully formed then if you launch straight into it. If you're nervous about timing, make sure you practice so you know exactly how much time you have to prepare on the day.


Some language classes give you the opportunity to preview your essay question before the day of the exam. This gives you the chance to perfect your essay beforehand and memorise it. Take advantage of this opportunity to write out your essay several times, experiment with structure and read the essay aloud to find the most natural flow for your writing. Everyone memorises things differently, so it's a good idea to find a technique which works best for you before the day of the exam.

Proofread It

Allow yourself time at the end of the exam to read over your work and correct any small mistakes you have made. If overlooked, these mistakes could affect your overall grade significantly. Again, timing is key here so you'll need to practice allowing yourself editing time during mock assignments.