Essay Exams

What this handout is about

This idea can inspire a reasonable amount of anxiety: we struggle enough with documents if they aren't timed events based on unknown questions. The objective of the handout is to provide you with some simple and effective strategies that can allow you to take charge of the problem and do your best.

Why is it that instructors give essay tests?

Essay tests are a useful tool for finding out if you're able to sort through a huge body of information, figure out what is important, and explain why it is crucial. Essay exams challenge you to come up with key course thoughts and put them in your own words and to utilize the interpretive or analytical skills you have practiced at the course.

Instructors want to see if:

  • You know concepts that provide the basis for the course
  • You can use those concepts to translate specific materials
  • You can create relations, determine relationships, draw comparisons and contrasts
  • You can synthesize diverse information in support of a first assertion
  • You can justify your own tests based on proper criteria
  • You can argue your own opinions with persuasive evidence
  • You can think critically and analytically about a subject

What composition questions need

Exam questions may reach pretty far into the class materials, so that you cannot hope to do well on them if you do not keep up with the readings and assignments from the beginning of the program. How do you be a prepared exam taker? Try a few of the following tips through the semester:

Do the reading because the syllabus dictates; keeping up with all the reading while the related notions are being discussed in course saves you twice the effort afterwards.

Go to lectures (and set away your telephone, the newspaper, and that crossword puzzle!) .

Organize small study groups with classmates to explore and review course materials throughout the semester. Others are going to catch things you may miss even when paying attention. This is not cheating. In fact, it is a big part of the learning process. This will allow you to predict the queries which will be on the examination, and prepare them.

These suggestions will help you save you a great deal of time and distress later. Bear in mind that you can't cram weeks of advice into a single day or night of research. Why put yourself in that position?

Now let's concentrate on studying for your examination. You'll observe these suggestions are wholly based on organizing your study materials into manageable chunks of related substance. When you've got a strategy of attack, you will feel more confident and your replies will be more clear. Here are some tips:

Don't merely memorize aimlessly; describe the important issues of this course and utilize these issues to concentrate your comprehension of particular details and special readings.

Attempt to organize and categorize the information to a thematic pattern. Look at everything you've researched and discover a way to put things into related classes. Locate the fundamental ideas which have been emphasized throughout the course and organize your notes into broad categories. Consider how different groups relate to one another.

Find out what you do not understand, but will need to know, by making up test questions and trying to answer them. Studying in classes helps as well.