When you are asked to write an essay, you are, of course, being tested. The test falls into two complementary parts. The people examining your work want to establish whether you have taken possession of the kind of knowledge and understanding of the topic that is consistent with the standard they are demanding. In simple terms, a university course would demand more in the way of knowledge and understanding than a GCSE course in the same subject. It is the lectures, discussions, seminars and the books recommended for reading that alert you to the level of sophistication and depth of understanding that is required at each stage of your education.
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