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Answering Essay Questions

Answering Essay Questions Posted by PAUL A.

A good answer plan is essential if your answer is going to pass. To do so, you need to be systematic, logical and be able to put your self in the examiner’s shoes. Take the example of essay 340:

A healthy 35 year old woman with 3 previous vaginal deliveries is being managed as an out-patient following pre-term rupture of the membranes at 26 weeks gestation. She presents at 28 weeks gestation feeling very unwell and complaining of sore throat, diarrhoea and constant abdominal pain. She has a pulse of 120/min, BP = 80/40 mmHg and Temp = 39C. (a) Discuss your initial acute management [14 marks]. (b) She is subsequently delivered and discharged. How can maternal mortality from infections be prevented? [6 marks]


The first layer of your answer plan should be:





You should then read the question again and ensure that this first level is appropriate. This is the backbone of your answer. Get this wrong and your answer will not pass.

Next write down those issues that do not fit neatly into the above scheme. For this question, I will include:

ABC & resus

Infection control

You then need to estimate how many marks each of these sections would earn.


ABC & resus (1)

Infection control (1)

Hx (2)

Exam (3)

Invest (3)

Treat (4)

You are now in a position to add the second level to your answer plan. You are not being tested on your ability to take a general Hx (including social Hx…). The examiner is looking for the 2 (or at most 4) most important aspects of the Hx. The things that will make a difference to what you will do. There are only 2-3 marks at most and these are not awarded for your general ability to take a Hx.

The examiner’s marking scheme would look something like this:


ABC & Resuscitate (1 mark)

Take infection control measures (1 mark)


History of A  (1 mark)

History of B (1 mark)


Cardiorespiratory (1 mark)

Uterine tenderness (1 mark)

Speculum examination (1 mark)

You can write all the Hx in the world. If you do not have A or B you get no marks.

Your answer plan should have 2-3 levels, and take no more than 5 minutes to complete. It should not contain any sentences or phrases only words / abbreviations. You should then convert every level 2 point in your answer plan into 1-2 sentences in your answer.

ESSAY 341 Posted by SRABANI M.

Dear Paul

Could you please correct my answer for essay 341?

Answer Posted by PAUL A.

Answers are marked on a first-come-first served basis. Let us know if we have missed your answer and marked those that have been posted after yours.

Posted by jyothi  S.

Dear Paul,

can you let me know what ypu mean by Hx of A and B?




adad Posted by PAUL A.