College and university writing projects come with titles of various types.
Although the titles are called questions, not necessarily the title will always end with a question mark. Analyzing the essay title is an important thing, avoid feeling the need to summarize the question and creating your own
Consider your teacher assigning you a long essay title, which needs to be dissected into small, manageable chunks before starting the work. Remember, all essay questions include instructions like discuss, explore, analyze, etc. However, international students often find it difficult to understand such words. For example, if you consult a dictionary for such instructional words, you’ll realize that there are a large number of meanings that may not necessarily reflect the exact or more specific meaning in the academic context. This is why it is advised to not rely much on translations into other languages.
For instance, the definition of ‘discuss’ in the “Collins COBUILD Advanced Dictionary, 2008” is:
- To have a conversation about; consider by taking over; debate
- To treat (a subject) in speech or writing
Note that both the above definitions indicate that ‘discuss’ means to ‘talk’ or ‘write about’. Speaking from the academic context, ‘discuss’ often suggests something more specific and focused, as in, “for discussion, you need to consider xyz aspects of the topic, examine the benefits and pitfalls of different perspectives, and provide your own conclusion”.
Analyzing keywords and structure of essay titles
Underlining or highlighting keywords is a great exercise that college and university students often use for their reading and writing projects. Here is an IELTS-based essay question where the important words have been highlighted:
Learning personal Financial Management is one of the most powerful tools in life. How in your opinion individuals can best learn to handle their own expenses?
In this case, there is more than ample information than a student can think, which can help you understand both the structure and content of essay title. Even a single word in the question can give you a strong hint regarding what is expected to write in the essay. Here is another essay title:
Does the media always misrepresent minority groups?
The ‘always’ in the question tells us that media does misrepresent minorities, but still the student will need to comprehensively explain this along with relevant examples. The core question is whether ‘always’ is correct or not, in other words, are there examples through which you can state that media represent minority groups correctly.
In case the essay question is quite long, it becomes even more important to appropriately analyze the structure of the question and ensure the answer provided is complete without including irrelevant, out-of-context examples. The student needs to:
- Examine the topic
- Use his/her research skills to locate all areas and make notes on the instruction words used
- Use his/her knowledge to differentiate relevant pointers from irrelevant ones for inclusion in the essay.
The students can even consult professional academic essay writing service to help them understand and analyze their essay question in detail.