Answering essay questions in exams

Nothing strikes more fear into the heart of a liberal arts student than seeing that big blue book, full of empty, lined pages, just waiting to be filled with paragraphs pregnant with novel insight. These exams are tough.

Answering essay questions in exams

How Successful Students Make the Grade Like many students at university, you may be unhappy about the results you attain in exams. You may feel that even with all you are doing there must be something more -- or different-- you could be doing to get better grades.

We have all at some time or other heard of that student who only studies a couple of hours for final exams and scores A's every time. We stand in awe of those who seem to breeze through without undue effort and seem to need very little in the way of studying to nail an exam.

The reasons for success, in what I think are the vast majority of cases, are less esoteric than many students think: Where difficulties arise Sometimes the difficulties students have with preparing effectively for exams stem from a need to develop fundamental skills such as time management, reading for comprehension, note-taking, and coping with anxiety.

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If this is true of you, you might also find it helpful to read "Reading University Level Materials" and "Note-taking at University" to strengthen your essential learning skills.

Some other reasons that students experience difficulties preparing for exams are related to constraints on time, lack of preparation of appropriate kinds, and a misplaced focus on the course material.

In some cases students have difficulty developing an adequate understanding of the theoretical perspectives of the course or the course concepts and applying this understanding of one part of the course to another.

Others try to maintain their old approach to studies and this may involve them choosing to memorize materials when it may be more appropriate to work analytically or interpretively; this in turn may lead to increased anxiety and a chance of "blanking out" in exams.

Additionally, it is often the case that students seek effortless, short-term solutions to studying for exams, trying to learn a full year's work in the matter of a few days intensive studying. In sum, the reasons for failure or poor grades can often be traced to the absence or break-down of a productive approach to learning.

Providing you aren't willing to be satisfied with moderate understanding and moderate grades, then you will probably be looking for ways to overcome these concerns. These kinds of issues are common to many students and can be worked out with a little instruction and application of new strategies to your efforts.

For many students the concept of study brings to mind the mythology of late term cramming efforts and all-nighters.


Getting set to study can sometimes be a matter of realizing if you don't get started right away and use whatever time remains you may well end up failing the exam. For the next few days you frantically compile and study your notes until you feel you have a grasp on the information, undertaking intense study sessions only to feel frustrated at your results later on.

The strategy of cramming at the last minute often fails because you have to assimilate and integrate vast quantities of information in too short a period of time. You are likely to feel overwhelmed and overloaded with details and ideas that do not seem connected.

Such feelings will likely contribute to a broader sense of anxiety and dread about the exam. You cannot expect to perform well consistently with this sort of preparation and attitude. When you cram, you do not allow yourself adequate time to integrate ideas, to consolidate information into meaningful patterns, to analyze and criticize the ideas, to reflect on ideas so as to gain a deeper understanding of their connections, to test yourself by recitation and elaborative rehearsal.

Instead, you struggle to hold all the terms and concepts in your memory long enough to make it to the exam room. Some information "spills out" on the way: Under the pressure of the exam, you may find that you forget pertinent details, that you cannot see important connections, and that you cannot adequately analyze and interpret the questions so as to draw on what you do remember.

Less frantic, and usually much more productive, routines can be put in place without great effort for both long term and short term study. The key thing to do is to make reviewing a regular part of your study or homework routine.

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A sensible approach to reviewing regularly might entail starting a study session with a quick review of material covered the last time you studied the topic under consideration. Focus on key words and phrases.

Answering essay questions in exams

Keep this sort of reviewing brief about minutes duration -- think of it as a "warm-up. Check the course description and list of lecture and reading titles on your course syllabus: In lectures look for repeated concepts or ideas identified by key transitions such as "more importantly In texts and articles, use introductions, abstracts, headings, subheadings, bold face type and summaries to identify important topics and material.If you print or download from this site, please consider making at least a $ donation through PayPal.

Sandra Effinger [email protected] DropBox Access -- Binder from summer workshops ( pages), various lists and handouts housed on my r etired AP English page have been migrated. An invitation will be issued to $ donors. Testing with success series The Essay Exam. Organization and neatness have merit.

Before writing out the exam: Write down their key words, listings, etc, as they are fresh in your mind.

How Successful Students Make the Grade

Otherwise these ideas may be blocked (or be unavailable) when the time comes to write the later questions. The Texas State University Office of Veterans Affairs assists veterans by answering questions concerning veteran educational benefits, certifying enrollments for the Department of Veterans Affairs, and monitoring our veterans' degree plans and academic progress.

A test or examination (informally, exam or evaluation) is an assessment intended to measure a test-taker's knowledge, skill, aptitude, physical fitness, or classification in many other topics (e.g., beliefs).

A test may be administered verbally, on paper, on a computer, or in a predetermined area that requires a test taker to demonstrate or perform a set of skills. Writing a good essay requires synthesis of material that cannot be done in the minutes you have during the exam.

In the days before the exam, you should: Anticipate test questions. answering challenge 5 questions CHALLENGE QUESTIONS When you think you have achieved a performance objective, you will need to answer three challenge questions which are related.

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