How to Respond to Essay Type Questions More Effectively

Every day, we deal with answering questions either informal or formal. In our daily conversations with our family and friends, we usually ask questions or answer questions. So, to be an effective communicator, we need to focus on the topic to be able to give an effective response.

One common topic in ESL learning is household chores.  At home, family members talk about their chores, tell someone to do their chores, and talk to friends about their chores. It is also a common topic in speaking tests and paragraph writing. So here are some tips on what to do when you are asked to talk about it or write about it.

First, let’s discuss what to say when you are talking to a friend about your household chores. Speaking in a casual conversation is usually informal, so the structure of your speech depends on the mood of the conversation. For a friendly conversation, it just comes in a conversational or informal question-and-answer way. When your friend asks something, you just have to answer either a word, a phrase, or a complete sentence.    Here is an example conversation between two friends talking about their chores.

Arman: So, what chores do you do at home?

Mandy: Not much. I just have to make my bed and help my mom set the table before we eat. And you?

Arman: Well, my mom usually asks me things to do when she needs a hand on something. So I don’t really have to follow a regular chore.

Mandy: Really? That’s nice.


What about if you are talking to your professor during a class or during a more formal speaking test?  Well, the structure of your talk becomes more formal, too. It has to follow a structure so that you will gain approval or points in case of a test. So, what should you include in your answer?

Teachers or test officers usually ask more challenging questions. So a student has to analyze first the question before answering it. Usually, speaking questions in an examination test the reasoning power of the student. It may be in the form of an essay.  So it may require a bit of articulation and explanation on the topic. It would be great if the answer follows the tips in writing an effective paragraph, where the answer would require a short introduction, explanations or body of the talk, and the closing sentence which is usually called the conclusion. So if you want to have a more effective and convincing answer, you should be good at creating outlines in your mind about the main points you need to say, or if you are allowed to write notes, then it would be great to write an outline. An outline is a list of keywords that you will be discussing in your answer. Through your mental or written outline, you can focus on keywords that target the correct response to the question at hand. Let us analyze the following situation.

A teacher conducts a speaking test in the classroom.  He asks this question; “What household chore do you do?” The student responding to the question may create an outline like this:


Topic Sentence:

3 works I have to do

washing the dishes, water refilling, and watering the plants


when do I do, what do I wash – twice a week, stainless utensils, not so many glasses

where I get water from, when do I refill – refilling station, near, refill weekly

what plants, is it many, when do I water the plants – flowering plants, every Saturday


conclude your talk, say how you feel about your chore – happy doing my chores

In an essay type response, the same pattern applies. The respondent has to include an introduction, body, and conclusion depending on the situation or directions of the essay test. Some essay test questions may require a minimum number of words, sentences, or paragraphs in the answer. However, the principle of having an introduction, body, and conclusion in the answer is always expected.  Outlining is also a helpful thing to do in order to effectively respond to the essay question.

To practice your skills in answering essay type questions, here are topics you can practice to improve your speaking or writing skills.


What’s your favorite thing?

What’s your favorite subject and why?

Who is your favorite person and why?

Who is your favorite singer and why?


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