In any academic subject, there is the potential for essays and assignments as well as exams, to present students with questions that are similar to those asked in the past. The questions may be identical to previous years; alternatively, the questions may be altered or adapted slightly. The slight alteration or adaptation may help to prevent students simply copying and rephrasing former students work. Whether the questions remain the same or are slightly altered, it is important to ensure that the writer addresses the core issues with an original paper. To ensure the essay is answered in an appropriate way, it is important to understand some of the reasons why questions may be reused.

What are Questions Repeated?

In any subject studied, or module pursued, there will always be key topics and theories that are fundamental to the topic being studied. The assignments or essays will usually be designed to incorporate these fundamental elements to sloe the student to practice using the concepts by applying them in an assignment context. The assignment will usually include opportunities for the student to both demonstrate their knowledge and expand that knowledge. For example, any academic research will require the student to undertake independent reading, which will facilitate the engagement of cognitive processes that stimulate further learning to increase knowledge. The assignment will provide an opportunity for students to demonstrate their independent reading if they can incorporate relevant content into their essays. By expanding on the content using non-course materials the student demonstrates their research skills and may increase the scope of the paper that will help to differentiate it from those seen in the past, which could enhance the grade.
Knowing what is expected in the essay can help when deciding how to answer a question.

Writing the Essay

If an essay question is setrecurrently, students may have the opportunity to read past essay questions. Tutors will often provide example answers to aid students understanding, using past student submissions to demonstrate suitable approaches to the questions. Past essays should be read with specific note take of the tutors’ comments, which may indicate how marks may have been enhanced, or indicate the elements of the assignment that increased the marks. Once reading the essays and the comments the next stage is to determine what will be included in your own essay, this may include different examples to illustrate points raised. Importantly, the paper should not be a rewriting of the essays that have been provided but develop the topic in a way that will show independent thought. The degree to which this is possible will vary depending upon the subject studied and the topic. The following are the key stages for writing the essay.

  1. Identify the key theories which should be applied in the case.
  2. Identify and read sources which should be used in the assignment. The reading should include independent reading from appropriate sources such as peer-review journals as well as the course text.
  3. Make an essay plan listing of the content to be included in the essay and the number of words for each section.
  4. Write the essay in line with the plan and include original through and arguments to show a balanced approach.
  5. Ensure the work is referenced in line with the university guidelines.
  6. Fully edit and proofread the work, checking it against the plan.

By following this approach, the student will have an advantage in seeing the past papers and have the potential to optimise their marks.