Understand the question

It’s likely that when you look at your essay question or topic your first thought will be “what the …?” Don’t panic. At first glance, essay questions tend to look more confusing and bizarre than they actually are. Let’s look at an example question:

Discuss the influence of celebrity culture on mainstream culture

Q: What is the question asking you to do?
A: Discuss
Q: What does ‘discuss’ mean?
A: Look it up in a dictionary or the Essay Glossary
Q: What are the main topics or theories in the question?
A: Celebrity culture / mainstream culture / influence
Q: What do they mean?
A: Yep, look them up in a dictionary!
Q: In a non-academic sentence, what is the question basically asking?
A: It’s basically asking you to talk about the ways famous people influence the rest of us.

Have a go at doing this with your own essay question.