Don't answer the question: regurgitate your tutorial essay on a
related topic instead. If you do plan to answer the question, the following may
2. Try to think that there is only 'one right answer' to the
question and that you have found it. This will make you sound duly
presumptuous and give you an excuse not to justify your claims.
Alternatively, try to think that there is only 'one right answer'
to the question and that you haven't found it. This will make you
sound duly insecure. Instructions below, for either case (they are
not so different).
3. Be woolly. Say things like 'many have argued' rather than
saying who argued and why. Use 'seems to be' as a shorthand for
'it is perhaps the case, but I have not made the effort of checking
it, which will hopefully not matter to my examiner'.
4. Use 'thus' ('therefore', 'hence'…) whenever you prefer the
examiner to work out why your next sentence follows from the previous.
5. Don't tell the reader in your first paragraph what and how
you're going to argue. It's much more exciting if she needs to gradually
work her way through scattered bits and pieces that guide her to
the unwritten conclusion (a 'Grund-conclusion' or a 'conclusion
of recognition'). It's called jurisprudential Scavenger Hunt. They
love it. (Note: This rule doesn't guarantee you a bad essay
unless you combine it with rule 8. Don't take risks!)
6. Write a conclusion that summarises what you should have said
rather than what you did say.
7. Reassure the examiner that she did a good job setting your
exam question by insisting that the question is 'difficult' and
'important' and that the authors concerned are 'famous'.
8. Make sure you give no hint about what a particular paragraph
is supposed to show and how it is supposed to contribute to answering
the question. If possible, make unconnected claims within the paragraph
9. Be pompous. Spend at least four sentences, or ideally many
more, repeating the question and promising that you will answer
it 'fully', 'exhaustively', 'properly' or 'rigorously'. (Else the
examiner has no way of finding out how well you've answered the
10. After you have set out the background of the question – i.e.
explained what various people in your reading-list said – be sure
to stop. Just to avoid misunderstandings, remind the examiner, in
case she had forgotten, that the actual essay-question is so difficult
that it cannot be solved without a 'detailed study'. Don't forget
to add the tag 'which lies beyond the scope of this essay'.