Unit Study Tip

Originally Published: March/April 1996

Students often fill their writing assignments with vague generalities or merely repeat words in the question. Help your students develop clarity of thought by requiring supporting details. They will gain maturity in their thinking and writing by analysis of or reflection on a literary or historical idea.

Choose study questions that meet these goals, or assign essay questions similar to those below. You may also incorporate public speaking by having your student present information to the entire family.


  1. Describe a character before and after a change that resulted from gaining insight. Explain what prompted it.
  2. Describe how any one figure of speech is used and explain how it enhances the work as a whole (e.g., irony, jargon, personification).
  3. What is the overall mood of the work and how does the author create that mood? (look at settings, word choices, and actions.)


  1. Choose a major government decision in foreign or domestic policy and explain in what ways it was good for the nation. Include support that responds to criticisms which were made at that time.
  2. Look at both sides involved in a war. Explain why each thought it was right or wanted to fight. Include the basic ideas held by each.
  3. Choose any historical figure. Explain specifically how one of his beliefs influenced his behavior.