Cooperative Learning Center

How to break down a writing prompt or exam question

Look for what the prompt asks you to do. (Hint: Look for verbs.) If it helps you, try color coding different parts of the prompts. Doing this can clearly show you the puzzle pieces of your prompt. Are there requirements you need to include? What are these, and what resources will you need to meet these requirements? Think of questions to "ask" the prompt. This will let you dig deeper into the prompt, and inspire yourself with ideas to talk about. Your prompt doesn't exist in the void! Connect parts of your prompt to class activities. Maybe it relates to a lecture, or a reading; these can be valuable resources. Visit the CLC and work on deconstructing the prompt with a tutor! Watch a 4-minute video demonstrating these steps.