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Studying & Test Taking

Essay Outlining


Essay outlining will be an important part of your study sessions if you know you'll need to write an essay or a long answer response during a test.

Creating essay outlines on key course topics can help you prepare for your test in a few important ways. Practicing this approach can help you

  • Organize your thoughts and build an argument quickly,
  • Pace your writing during the test so you finish on time (or early!), and
  • Identify topics you might need to focus on more closely during your study sessions.

Check out the Taking Notes module to learn more about the Outline Method—this note-taking approach will help you prep for this kind of study session!

How to Use Essay Outlines to Study

Watch this video to learn how to approach writing essays during exams and apply these approaches while studying.

Pay particular attention to the Planning section (0:50) of this video to learn how to structure an essay during a test.

Tips for Essay Outlining

  • Brainstorm ideas for possible essay topics (use lectures, textbooks, etc. for inspiration).
  • Start with the topic or question and come up with your thesis statement first, then main points, sub points, introduction, and conclusion.
  • Use a template if you have trouble remembering all the components necessary for a strong essay.
  • Time yourself! You'll have a better sense of how long you'll spend on this piece during your actual test.