Essay-based exams: how to answer ‘To what extent…’ essay questions
Many students struggle to produce a sophisticated essay format under exam conditions. Instead of writing to their usual standard, they panic and just scribble down all the information they know on the subject. Sound like you?
You can earn a lot of extra marks in these exams, if you know how to answer the question specifically and producing a well-structured essay. So it’s Oxbridge Essays to the rescue, with a series of custom essay formats that you can use to answer any one of these common exam question types: ‘Compare and Contrast’, ‘To What Extent’, ‘How does the Writer’, ‘For and Against’ and ‘Close Reference’.
To What Extent?
Why are they so popular? Well, this type of question allows the student to show a variety of skills. Firstly, the depth of their knowledge on the given subject. Secondly, students can display independent judgement by analysing the importance of different pieces of information.
What your custom essay should include
The first is detailed source evidence and extra material, to support your argument. Let's use an example essay question here to demonstrate. In a history exam, the essay might ask: “To what extent was the character of Charles II responsible for his problems with parliament?".
The student is being asked to do two things here: to show an in-depth knowledge of Charles II's character, and to analyse which specific aspects of his character may have affected his political relationships.
Incorporating detailed evidence will always demonstrate how much you know of the subject matter, and will help to support the angle and strength of your argument.
The second element is linking to wider issues, topics or arguments that support your point of view. For example, in this particular history essay, a student could refer to other historical events that were responsible for problems between Charles II and parliament, but which were not related to his character.
Drawing on other factors in this way helps to increase the significance of your argument, and will round out your essay fully.
These two elements of analysis – including detailed evidence and linking to wider ideas – can be used to answer any 'To what extent...' question. In other words, when answering this type of essay question, keep the general structure the same and change the the appropriate information in the right places.
Remember also to analyse your evidence as you weave your argument. Do this by answering questions like, 'how significant is your evidence in supporting your argument?' and, 'what are the potential weaknesses that this evidence carries?'.
How your custom essay should be structured
For example, going back to our history essay question above, the introduction would need to acknowledge that to some extent, the character of Charles II was responsible for his problems with parliament.
An introduction should then go on to highlight the importance of taking into account other aspects which also impact the topic of the essay.
Paragraph 1 and 2
Paragraph 3 and 4
This can be achieved in two ways. Firstly, by showing flaws in its logic (in this case, by suggesting that there were actually some aspects of Charles’s character that in fact improved his political relationships). Secondly, by offering alternatives (in this case, other elements unconnected to his personality that may have soured the parliamentary relationship independently).
To do this, simply recap:
• The points that suggest the question's claims are true
• The points against
• Then conclude whether you agree the statement is true ‘to a certain extent’, ‘to a great extent’ or ‘to a very small extent’. This must be backed up by a summary of the argument on both sides to prove why you feel it to be weighted one way or the other.
Once you have finished your essay, the little touches matter. You don't want to risk being penalised for not sticking to the formatting guidelines set for your submission. Many students seek the assistance of a good proofreader to check for any errors or omissions in your work and will ensure that you have every opportunity to present your points in the best possible light, with the perfect structure, formatting and presentation to match. After your thorough research and work put into completing this essay, you deserve the best possible grade.
Read other articles in the Custom Essay series
Some close reference questions are specifically focussed on the piece itself, whilst others use it as a springboard to discuss a wider issue with aspects of the text used to illustrate your argument. > read more
This is exactly the kind of essay that can cause students to panic under exam pressure, as a clear, structured essay format is required to tackle it correctly. > read more
This question offers an invitation for the student to showcase as much knowledge as possible about the craft and techniques of writing. Luckily for you, you’ll be going in armed with your own super writing technique. > read more
Somewhere, in every exam room, is one student who calmly looks at the question and confidently begins to write – as if they had a custom essay already prepared no matter what the requirements. That student knows the secret of custom essays… > read more