Humor, Life

The Art of Bluffing (for Essay Questions)

person catching light bulb

Disclaimer: This article is not meant to be serious. Bluffing is a strategy that should only be used as a last resort, if you have no idea how to answer an essay question. Be sure to study hard for your exams and not wait until the last minute.

What is bluffing?

In this article, bluffing means writing an answer to an essay question as if you know what you are doing even when you have no idea what you are doing. This article will outline my top 5 tips for how to bluff an essay question effectively.

Tip #1: Show What You Know – “The Knowledge Dump”

File:The Battle of Gettysburg, Pa., July 3rd, 1863 MET DP831356.jpg -  Wikimedia Commons

With the blank page looming in front of you, it’s easy to focus on what you don’t know. Instead, take what little details you do know and emphasize those.

Maybe you don’t remember what happened in the Battle of Gettysburg. But you know what generally happens at battles–lots of casualties, bloodshed. And you know where it took place–Gettysburg, duh. Hopefully you remember it was a battle in the American Civil War, but even if you don’t, you could probably spin an answer worth a point or two.

If you do remember that it happened during the American Civil War, you could hazard a guess at which side won and what date. Give a date range when it may have happened if you’re not willing to take a chance.

For example:

The Battle of Gettysburg occurred in Gettysburg, PA around the 1860s (during the American Civil War). It was an occasion of great bloodshed and high numbers of casualties. It was a pivotal battle in the war, pitting the Union and Confederate soldiers against each other in what became a bloodbath.

Sure, it’s not long, but with bluffing you have to be satisfied with whatever you come up with.

Tip #2: Use Key Words – “Parrot the Teacher

close up of a yellow and blue macaw

Does your teacher have favorite words? Does the particular field you are studying have technical words or jargon you can fall back on? Maybe it’s an English class and you are given a vague prompt like “Compare and contrast Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer.”

And oops, you happened to have only read the CliffsNotes. (Not that I advocate that in any way. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a masterpiece, and frankly, you are missing out if you haven’t read it.)

Instead of: Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn are different in many ways.

Try: Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn are foils, polar opposites who are nonetheless are attracted to each other. Their personalities are complementary yet differ greatly.

Tip #3: Feign Confidence – “Show No Fear”

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Teachers can smell fear.

Nah, not really. But if you seem uncertain about your answers, they’ll be able to tell. Even if you have no idea what you are talking about, write it clearly and without hesitation.

Avoid saying that you believe or think something – if you write the sentence, it is already obvious that you believe it.

Avoid these words: slightly, maybe, seems, appears to, perhaps, may be, possibly, in my opinion, I think, I believe

Tip #4: Fill the Page – “Quantity, not Quality”

yellow rubber ducks

If you don’t know what to write, just write. Repeat the same idea in as many different ways as possible. Discuss how you feel about the topic, even if that does not seem relevant.

For example:

Evolution is built on the idea that changes in organisms and the development of species occurs through natural selection and chance. This, of course, means that the results could be described as accidental. If the results are accidental, this implies that there is no purpose behind design….

This example repeats itself multiple times with slight differences, filling as much space as possible with a single idea. It is not, however, completely obvious that this is what is happening.

Tip #5: Answer a Different Question – “Be Evasive!”

If you can’t answer the question given, answer a slightly different question you do think you could answer. This is not the easiest one to pull off, which is why it is number five. The reason is, most teachers realize you have neglected to answer the actual question.

Actual Question: Why does the author of the book we have just read make the curtains in the living room red?

Question you answer: What emotions are commonly associated with the color red?

Even though you will have evaded the question, it will sound like a thorough analysis of why the curtains were red.

Conclusion

Once again, this article is not meant to be serious. Bluffing is a strategy that should only be used as a last resort, if you have no idea how to answer an essay question. Be sure to study hard for your exams and not wait until the last minute.

If you’re a college student, good luck with finals!