How to answer an essay paper
1. Give adequate time to each question in the paper. A common
mistake is to find one or two questions in the paper which the candidate
knows well and over which he/she devotes too much time. The result is an
inadequate answer to the remaining questions. The best approach is to place
a watch on the desk and allocate a definite time for summaries (answer
plan) and a specified time to each question and keep a constant watch on
2. When the paper is received each question should be read over several
times and a plan jotted down before the writing starts. an essay written
without a plan tends to wander and can lose marks for organization and
3. Understand the meaning of the questions. This may seem superfluous,
but under the stress of examination this is not uncommon. For example,
candidate has been known to waste valuable time writing Lebers optic atrophy
when the questions was about Lebers amauorosis. Also avoid writing essay
if the questions asked for short answers.
There are certain terms which occur regularly
in the essay paper and its is wise to consider their meanings. These include
Discuss the diagnosis and management of A. The
question assumed that the patient is a typical case of A. The answer should
include the history, symptoms, signs and results of investigation which
one would expect to find in a patient with the disease or condition mentioned.
Treatment forms the last part of the essay and can often be divided into
medical or surgical.
For example: Discuss the diagnosis and management
of a patient with a postoperative intraocular infection
Discuss the differential diagnosis of B.The salient
clinical features of the disease B may be mentioned briefly, but the main
part of the questions should concern with the conditions which must be
distinguished from B. A classification is much more valuable than a mere
For example: Discuss the differential diagnosis
of intermittent pain behind the left eye of two years' duration in lady
aged 70 years.
Discuss the indications for C. This usually refers
to treatment. When considering these indication, the reasons for treatment
should be given - with appropriate example rather than a list of the various
conditions for which the treatment might be considered.
For example: What are the indications for iridectomy?
Outline the techniques and comment on the possible side effects.
How would you investigate a case of D? This question
assumes that the patient is suffering from the condition mentioned. The
investigation is conducted on clinical lines, ie.history, symptoms, physical
sings and accessory investigation, mentioning under each heading the various
points which one would expect to find in the case under review
For example: How would you investigate and treat
a patient with a shallow anterior chamber following intraocular surgery?
Discuss the clinical features of E. The answer
to such should deal chiefly with the symptoms for which the patient would
probably complain and the signs which would be found on examining a typical
case. Laboratory or radiological investigation merely require mentioning.
For example: Describe the clinical features of
neurofibromatosis with particular reference to the ophthalmic and intracranial
4. Presentation. Write intelligibly and use sub-heading. Write short
sentences and avoid putting more than two pints in each sentence. If diagram
were required, make sure it is large, clear and well-labelled
Discuss the pathology of F. Although the causes
of the condition may be mentioned briefly, the essential part of the answer
should concern the pathological changes which occur in the condition of
F. Consideration for the pathology according to the anatomical structures
help to simplify the answer.
For example: Describe the pathology of tumours
arising in the lacrimal gland and briefly summarize their management
Discuss the complications which may follow G. The
complications can either considered in their chronological order or from
an anatomical standpoint
For example: Discuss the indications for radiotherapy
in ophthalmic practice. What complications may occur?
5. Read the answer when finished to correct any slips or punctuation
If the above techniques were adopted, the final appearance of the
essay will be significantly improved.
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