SURVIVAL SHEET 1: Direct question Essay


Procedure for breaking down a direct question essay

(what is, who is, when, why, where)*


Sample Question: What are the benefits and problems of Using Artificial Skin for Scientific Testing


1) Always read the Question FIRST. Circle the thing(s) the assignment wants you to find or answer.


[Would you circle Artificial skin? Is the question asking you to find Artificial skin? NO. Same for Scientific Testing. What the question *IS* asking you to find are the benefits AND the problems. Circle the words 'benefits' and 'problems']


2) Write those terms on a scrap section of your paper (eg on the back of the paper, write 'benefits', skip some space, then write 'problems' and underline both).   If the terms aren’t clear, write next to it in your own words


3)Go back and re-read the question. [The circled items will attain 'cognitive focus': subconsciously become things you look for -- eg if you are simply looking at people crossing the street, you may/may not notice someone with a red dress. But if you think 'red dress' and then look, your mind will focus on scanning for the red dress, consciously or subconsciously].


3A) If you are an average or fast reader, read the text then go to step 4. 
3B)If you are a slow reader, as you read the text, underline every important section of the text dealing with what the question wants you to find ('benefits' and 'problems').



4) From the text (or parts of text you underline in 3B), find/write down the answer or EVIDENCE to each term as you find it, in the form of some buzz words or summary you will remember.


For example:


Benefits                                                                                                Problems


-ethical-no animals                                                                          -what about info from organs working together?

-scientific-reproduce results easily-no variation w/diff animals

-cheaper than human trials

-screen humans for best candidates


You could logically "think" up/extrapolate more reasons (for example, problem could be that lawyers could sue if the "patches" of artifical skin tissue was not broad enough genetically and ethnically), but on an essay question, at minimum, use what the text gives you.


NOTE: doing step 4 above can help you if you are running out of time! If you are almost at "pencils down," quickly write "out of time - ideas on back" at bottom of paper. Sometimes you may get partial credit for finding the answers even if you didn't have time to write up the essay to completion.



5) Work on an intro (see types of introduction handout later in the course)/ Put your brainstormed idea into a thesis form



6) Order the list of your examples on the back: write #1 next to the ones with most evidence/strongest case/that you understand best, down to the least evidence/weakest case/reason you understand least. Choose as many as a)the assignment requests (for example, 'in 5 paragraphs including intro and conclusion...' you would do 2 benefits and 1

problem); OR

b) as time allows (with at minimum 1 benefit and 1 problem); OR

c) the standard 2-3 pieces of evidence per topic/question asked.
START writing! Use direct quotes from the text as "Evidence" in answering the question(s), when possible.



7)Make a concluding paragraph that restates how your points support your thesis.

Procedure for breaking down a Artistic Quality question (usually asks ‘how’)

An artistic quality question is different from a direct question essay in the sense that you are being asked about an artistic TECHNIQUE: “how does” the artist do something/achieve an effect.  You have to be careful to discuss the technique or patterns in the language, art, or music when answering an Artistic Quality question.


Here are some examples of artistic quality questions and the way many WRONGLY answer them:

1)How does Faulkner create a setting of nostalgia?

[If you answered, Faulkner’s novels are full of nostalgia for the old South…you would  NOT be answering the question]


2)How does Monet’s paintings use color to fit within the impressionistic style?

[If you answered, Monet’s paintings are bright and full of pastel colors, you would NOT be answering the question]


3) How does the Cure’s use of flange-effect guitar exemplify the gothic music sound?

[If answered, The Cure’s music is full of flange effect.  In the song…..etc… you would NOT be answering the question]


4) How does the author show that the protagonist is losing control over his feelings rather than simply falling in love?

[If answered, The protagonist is madly overwhelmed in a flood of feelings…you would NOT be answering the question]


5) How does the author set the mood in his short story….?

[If you answered, The author sets a dark mood of depression and tragedy, you would NOT be answering the question]



1) Follow STEPS 1-3 for a direct question, standard essay


4) If you know enough about the author, art, movement, writing, etc, to discuss the technique and answer the question, GO FOR IT, then follow STEPS 5-7 for a direct question/standard essay.  


IF INSTEAD UNSURE of where to start, consider using the standard set of artistic quality patterns.


5) The standard set of artistic quality patterns can be remembered by the mnemonic, SOCRAPR.  Usually you look for one or a few of these patterns in the text, depending on the material and on the time/length of the essay.  The standard patterns set of artistic qualities are:


            a) Similar words/similar meanings in the text/painting/musical piece (For example: justice,

anarchy, violence, apocalypse, etc; or talking about each person in a painting having the same size shadow, regardless of height, etc)

            b) Opposites  (For example, funeral and birthday, very bright settings with people painted in

very dark, stark colors)

            c) Contrasts (For example, 'violence which rose all about us'  vs 'left the world' [Rest in

Peace], talking about what to cook while bombs are exploding everywhere)

            d) Repetition and emphasis (For example, repeating of the same word, mirrors in all the

paintings by a particular artist )

e) Anthroprocentrisms (interpreting reality and nature in terms of human values)

                        (For example, 'a violent world….as a corrective for the pride of his eldest son', “the

harsh guitars poisoned the air in the room with contagious anger, crows flew overhead, cacking, ridiculing the mourners)

f) Parallels (same thing happening to A and B, what has happened to A reflected in what’s

happening to B (For example, in a story about confusion how the language parallels the content by not using punctuation)

            g) Relationships (For example Father and Son heroes vs father and son villains in a story, the

paintings of Marcoe always with bosses drinking wine, while their workers work to exhaustion)


Here are some examples of how you WOULD answer the 5 sample questions above, using the patterns:

1) Faulkner creates a setting of nostalgia by repeatedly showing the old guides and hunters recalling their adventures, intercut with scenes of urban sprawl and new tombstones added at the cemetery.


2) Monet contrasts bright natural blues and greens with out of focus white and black to…etc


3) The Cure repeatedly uses flange for its minor chord driven lead, flange on its fading bassline, and even flange as tone to their world-weary lyrics, to create their signature gothic sound.


4) The author uses the relationship of doctor to patient to set up an expectation of emotional distance, then shatters it by having the doctor barely restrained, as he has to heal the person he is growing lustful over.


5) One way the author sets the dark mood of the story is by having the world suddenly reflecting the inner feelings of the broken hero: the sky suddenly darkens, wind ‘breaks apart the skeletons of dying trees,’ and ‘the clouds cry for a few minutes, then move on, breaking into nothingness.’ [Anthropocentrism]


6) Go to Standard question essay, steps #5-7