WRITE UP ON EXAM TIPS
WRITE UP ON EXAM TIPS – ESSAYS
This is what it all comes down to. You are sitting in the exam hall, waiting to get your hands on that anticipated piece of paper. You have stored all the information into your brain and your fingers are ready to write the answers. The well organized, neat appearing individuals will usually get the nod over another equally capable person who is disorganized and careless in appearance. The student would be advised to follow certain steps in writing an exam.
Before the Exam: Prepare and Practice
Writing a good essay requires synthesis of material that cannot be done in the 150-180 minutes you have during the exam. In the days before the exam, you should:
- Anticipate test questions.Look at the question from the last exam (Previous Year Question Paper). Did the question ask you to apply a theory to historical or contemporary events? Did you have to compare/contrast theories? Did you have to prove an argument? Imagine yourself in the role of the instructor-what did the instructor emphasize? Try to find answers for these questions.
- Practice writing.You may decide to write a summary of each theory you have been discussing, or a short description of the historical or contemporary events you’ve been studying. Focus on clarity, conciseness, and understanding the differences between the theories.
- Memorize key events, facts, and names.You will have to support your argument with evidence, and this may involve memorizing some key events, or the names of theorists.
- Organize your ideas.Knowledge of the subject matter is only part of the preparation process. You need to spend some time thinking about how to organize your ideas. The key components of an answer to the question must include: Definition of the theories & brief description of the issue.
In the Exam
- 1. Set up a time schedule: If six questions are to be answered in forty-five minutes, allow yourself only five minutes for each. When the time is up for one question, stop writing and begin the next one. There will be 15 minutes remaining when the last question is completed. The incomplete answers can be completed during the time. Six incomplete answers, by the way, will usually receive more credit than three completed ones. Of course, if one question is worth more points than the others you allow more time to write it.
- Read through the questions once: Write down key words, listings, etc. now when they’re fresh in mind. Otherwise these ideas may be blocked (or be unavailable) when the time comes to write the later questions. This will reduce “clutching” or panic (Anxiety, actually fear which disrupts thoughts).
- Before attempting to answer a question, look at the directive words: Your instructor may give you specific directions how to write your answer. If he/she wants you to evaluate a philosophical theory, you won’t get full credit if you describe just the theory. Make sure you know what you are being asked to do.
- Outline the answer before writing: Whether the teacher realizes it or not, he/she is greatly influenced by the compactness and clarity of an organized answer. To begin writing in the hope that the right answer will somehow turn up is time consuming and usually futile. To know a little and to present that little well is, by and large, superior to knowing much and presenting it poorly–when judged by the grade it receives. Be sure to follow the directive words, and check your outline to see that it is logical.
- Take time to write an introduction and summary: The introduction will consist of the main point to be made; the summary is simply a paraphrasing of the introduction. A neat bundle with a beginning and ending is very satisfying to the reader. Be sure that your answer is direct and really answers the question.
- Take time at the end to reread the paper: When writing in haste we tend to: Misspell words, Omit words or parts, Omit parts of questions, Misstate dates and figures.
- Qualify answers when in doubt: It is better to say “Toward the end of the 19th century” then to say “in 1894” when you can’t remember whether it’s 1884 or 1894, though approximate, may be incorrect, and will usually be marked accordingly. When possible, avoid very definite statements. A qualified statement connotes a philosophic attitude, the mark of an educated man.
Things to Avoid
Essay exams can be stressful. You may draw a blank, run out of time, or find that you neglected an important part of the course in studying for the test. Of course, good preparation and time management can help you avoid these negative experiences. Some things to keep in mind as you write your essay/answer include the following:
- Avoid excuses: Don’t write at the end that you ran out of time, or did not have time to study because you were sick.
- Don’t “pad” your answer: Instructors are usually quite adept at detecting student bluffing. They give no credit for elaboration of the obvious. If you are stuck, you can elaborate on what you do know, as long as it relates to the question.
- Avoid the “kitchen sink” approach: Many students simply write down everything they know about a particular topic, without relating the information to the question. Everything you include in your answer should help to answer the question and support your thesis. You need to show how/why the information is relevant — don’t leave it up to your instructor to figure this out.