Preparing for the Written Exam

Published: 02.05.2012, Updated: 04.03.2017
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In the preparation for the exam you will be given a topic. For example, in the exam paper of autumn 2010 students were asked to prepare the topic "Social Equality" for the essay part of the examination. How would you prepare this topic?Topic: Social EqualitySocial Equality  

First and foremost - consider yourself lucky.

  1. You are given a topic in advance.
  2. The preparation sheet also provides several clues.
  3. Unlike other courses in written English you have got one day of preparation.
  4. And do not forget - your teacher can give you some guidance (but not teach!)


You may read the preparation part for the exam paper here  Forberedelse eksamen engelsk høsten 2010  and the assignments here  Eksamensoppgave Engelsk H2010 (some contents are left out due to publishing restrictions).

The Topic: Social Equality

So how should you go about preparing this topic?  

What is Social Equality?

examexam Look at the preparation sheet. Which clues are given? What approaches are suggested? Social equality is a complex concept and many aspects have been suggested:

  • Wheelchair users still barred from many jobs
  • Pupils from top private schools still get the best jobs
  • Not enough working-class students at university
  • Rich still getting richer, poor stay poor
  • Garbage collector was refused membership by posh golf club
  • Glass ceiling still prevents women from reaching top jobs
  • Name stops family from getting flat

(Extracted from exam paper, Utdanningsdirektoratet)

Ask yourself what aspects are involved here. Obviously, physical disabilities (wheelchairs), economy (rich vs. poor), social privileges (private school students), class distinctions (working-class students), gender gaps (women) and ethnicity (name) are all present.


Learn useful words and expressions related to these clues, e.g. by using a dictionary.

physical disabilities= fysiske funksjonshemminger/-hemmingar
social privileges=sosiale privilegier/privilegium
class distinctions = klasseskiller/klasseskilje
gender gap= kjønnsskille/-skilje
ethnicity= etnisitet

Use Encyclopedia and Sources

It might also be a good idea to look up "social equality" in an encyclopedia (oppslagsverk). Remember that you may download everything on a memory stick. But beware – ask yourself if the sources are reliable! Can you trust them? Remember to note down their addresses. You will find a lot of information about the use of sources and citing of references here Kildebruk  here Kildehenvisninger

Approaches to Social Equality

The next step is to ponder and revise the texts you have read (both fact and fiction), which films you have seen (in class or out) and consider personal experiences related to social equality. Then ask yourself the following questions:

Is there anything that highlights this topic in

  •     a novel you have read?
  •     a short story?
  •     a factual text?
  •     news in the media?
  •     a film or documentary?

You should then spend some time collecting relevant material from your text book or learning platform, go online and jot down key words (remember sources once again).

Essay Question

 Let's take a look at one of the essay questions:

TASK 2 in the exam paper goes like this:


"Life isn't always fair, but you've got to do the best with what you've got."

Write an article in which you discuss whether you think this statement is true or not. Use two or more literary and/or real-life figures to illustrate your views.

Your text should include the following:

  • An introduction
  • Presentations of the literary characters and/or real-life figures and their situation
  • A discussion of how they coped with the situation
  • A suitable conclusion

Give your article a suitable title


(Extracted from exam paper, Utdanningsdirektoratet)

An Example Approach to TASK 2

examexam As you can see above, there may be many approaches to TASK 2 and social equality. If you want to  prove that you are familiar with curricular topics in your English course, one approach you could choose is African Americans. Even if the American Declaration of Independence states that "All men are created equal", this does not always apply for every American citizen.

Watch the video Homeless Teenagers (NDLA) where young people (four out of five are African Americans) give their authentic stories about why they are homeless in today's USA. All of them are examples of characters that prove that "they do the best with what they've got". Focus on one of the characters in your article.

To shed further light on characters that "do the best with what they've got", you could use Kathryn Stockett's novel, The Help, about black maids as an illustration. The setting is Jackson, Mississippi right in the middle of the fight for Civil Rights in 1962. You may watch a trailer from the film version here The Help - Trailer  and you may read about the novel and an extract here A Study of The Help. Portray one of the characters.

If you are able to draw some historical lines from slavery and the Civil War (1861 - 1865) via the Civil Rights Movement (in the 1960s) up to today's situation, to present facts about African Americans and social equality, you will demonstrate that you have a good knowledge of this subject.

Remember to wind it all up in a conclusion with your thoughts regarding social equality and people who "do the best with what they've got".

How to Write an Article

Remember to revise the rules for writing a good text. Follow this link to get advice on How to Write an Article and this one on How to Write an Essay .


Past Exams

You will find past exam papers, assessments guides and good advice here.