Essay Exams

This handout is about

At some point in your undergraduate career, you're going to have to write an essay exam. This idea can inspire a fair amount of fear: we struggle enough with documents if they aren't timed events based on unfamiliar questions. The objective of the handout is to provide you with some easy and effective strategies that will help you take control of the situation and perform your best.

Why do instructors give essay tests?

Essay exams are a helpful tool for finding out if you can sort through a large body of information, determine what's essential, and explain why it's crucial. Essay exams challenge you to think of key course thoughts and put them in your own words and to use the interpretive or analytical abilities you've practiced in the program.

Teachers wish to see whether:

You know concepts that provide the foundation for the course

You can use those theories to interpret specific materials

You can make connections, see relationships, draw contrasts and comparisons

You can synthesize diverse information in support of a first assertion

You can justify your personal tests based on appropriate criteria

You can argue your own opinions with persuasive evidence

You can think critically and analytically about a topic

What composition questions require

Exam questions can reach pretty far into the class materials, so you cannot expect to succeed on these if you do not keep up with the readings and assignments from the start of the program. The most prosperous essay exam takers are ready for anything reasonable, and they probably have some intelligent guesses about the content of this exam before they take it. How can you be a ready exam taker? Try some of the following suggestions during the semester:

Do the reading as the syllabus dictates; keeping up with all the reading while the related concepts have been discussed in class saves you twice the effort later.

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

Take careful notes that you'll understand months later.

Take part on your discussion sections; this can allow you to absorb the material better so that you do not need to study as hard.

Organize small study groups with classmates to research and examine course materials throughout the semester. Others will catch things you may miss when paying attention. This is not cheating. In reality, it's a huge part of the learning procedure.

As a test strategies, find out everything you can about the form it will take. This can help you predict the questions which will be on the exam, and prepare them.

These suggestions will save you a great deal of time and distress later. Bear in mind that you can't cram weeks of information into a single day or night of study. So why put yourself in this place?

Now let us concentrate on studying for the examination. You'll notice these suggestions are wholly predicated on organizing your research materials into manageable chunks of related material. If you've got a plan of attack, you'll feel more confident and your replies will be clear. Here are some tips:

Do not merely memorize aimlessly; describe the important issues of the course and use these issues to concentrate your comprehension of particular facts and particular readings.

Attempt to organize and prioritize the info to a design routine. Look at everything you've researched and discover a way to place things into related groups. Locate the fundamental ideas which have been emphasized throughout the class and organize your notes into broad classes. Consider how different categories relate to each other.

Learn everything you do not understand, but need to understand, by making up test questions and seeking to answer them. Studying in groups helps also.