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When To Quote In Your English Essay

October 21, 2016

When To Quote In Your English Essay

When should you quote in your English exam? Let's find out!

It is exam day. You are terrified, you have been tapping your feet and biting your nails all morning and now the moment has come…your English exam.

You enter the exam hall; there are nervous faces everywhere, staring at each other with anxious grins. You get your paper and, YES!, you know everything, already a plan begins to form in your head immediately and pen reaches paper …

Now this is the ideal scenario but let’s just hold back one second. Of course jotting down your plan is the first thing you do but how about the quotes?

Quotes are useful and can bring strength to a good point. There are two dangers, however, when it comes to the use of quotes in your exam:

1. Forgetting any quotes.


Forgetting any quotes you know will be a bit scary but it can be dealt with. If you really want to quote to illustrate your point but can’t remember the exact words you can explain in detail which part you mean. You can also have one-word quotes and paraphrase if necessary, anything to outline and support your point will help. Examiners are aware of how many exams you have, how many texts you have studied and learning quotes off by heart is hard at the best of times. They will be lenient and if you really can’t remember any quotes at all just make sure you highlight how much you know of the themes, characters and apply it your argument.

2. Over-quoting.

Over- quoting is not something usually addressed. The thing is it can be off-putting and you are in danger of a few things here. Over-quoting gets very close to reciting whole chapters or poems and will overcrowd what you are trying to say. Filling your answer with other people’s words will lose you points, try to be selective in what you’re saying.

Try to use the P-E-E method:

1. Make your Point

2. Show your Evidence

3. Explain


By doing this you are making your own point first, you are leading with your original idea or opinion. You are then using a quote or reference to support your idea. Evaluating how they interact with each other is up to you, show your understanding and knowledge of the point you are making and how it relates to the example. Each paragraph should have this structure, it will enhance your overall viewpoint and make for a strong answer.

The key here, like with most things, is balance. Use quotes to support your points. Consider slimming down the quote even; a one-word quote that fits into a sentence neatly will show you can be concise. Try not to lead or rely on quotes too much, keep your voice strong and clear throughout your response.

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