Types of essay questions

Types of questions generally fall into one or more of five categories. Make sure you practice a variety of types!

Character

  • Try to brainstorm comparison points: are there other characters that provide a contrast?
  • Sometime these questions apply to a group of characters, for example, women or children.
  • Try to brainstorm all the characters and groups of characters that play a central enough role in the text to write a question about them

Theme

  • These questions tend to be quite broad. That means you can find lots of different evidence from different parts of the book and different characters
  • Try to brainstorm all the themes that you may be asked about in the exam and what type of evidence would be appropriate to include

Construction

  • These require you to discuss how the author (or director) has put the text together in a deliberate, meaningful way

Open

  • These types of questions leave it up to you for what the direction of the essay will be taken in.
  • Try to find your own unique take on the text in response to the prompt

Closed

  • This type of question requires you to discuss things from a narrow perspective. Often they are phrased as ‘do you agree’ questions which does allow you the opportunity to look at both sides of the argument