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Interpreting Essay Questions

Writing assignments come in different forms such as essays, reports, presentations, case studies, writing logs, and others depending on your field of study and course requirements. Interpreting essay questions is an important skill for students to learn so you will know how to create an appropriate response. This will ensure that you will get the marks intended for the question.

Essay Writer, in over a decade of providing academic writing services to thousands of students shares the following tips on interpreting essay questions:


  • Analyse the question. What does it really mean and what are its implications? Find out from the assignment sheet what kind of essay it would be, whether it requires a narrative, reaction, exposition, analysis, or comparison and contrast. Does the question require your own personal opinion on the topic or an objective analysis of facts and events? If it requires your opinion, know how the question relates to you or encourages you to show your emotion. When making an assumption or argument, make sure you have evidence and credible data to back you up.
  • Read the entire assignment sheet. Professors have their own different styles of writing essay questions. Some will just ask a question, give the word count and submission date. Others prefer to provide further details of how they want you to write on the topic and which aspects they want you to discuss. Reading all other information the tutor gave will shed light on what it is exactly he is looking for in an answer and how you will be in a better position to give it.
  • Be mindful of the required length. The word count is an indication of how in-depth, complex and precise your answers should be. You are usually allowed a margin of ten percent to go above or below the word count. Find out if the total count will include the sources, a summary of the essay or tables and indices.
  • Know how to interpret key words. . In our tips regarding essay questions, we have listed several directional words and phrases commonly included in essay questions. These tell you what details to include in your answers and how you will write about the topic.


Once you are done interpreting essay questions, the next step you will need to do is look for the answers. Your answers to the essay question can come from two sources: the knowledge you have retained in your mind from readings and lectures about the topic; and from what experts have said or written about the subject.

Some tutors give essay questions you can answer outside of class hours. This typically requires you to do intensive research and analysis. Gather all the information you can from reliable academic-based sources, and make sure to credit your references properly to avoid unintentional plagiarism.

There are also instances when you are only given a limited amount of time to write an essay on the spot. In this type of exam you will rely on your accumulated knowledge of the topic or issue you are asked to write about.

For further guidance on interpreting essay questions, seek assistance from Essay Writer's writers and researchers in 80 major subjects. They are familiar with academic writing conventions in UK universities, having earned degrees and qualifications from top UK learning institutions.

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