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How To Prepare For An Essay Exam

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How to Prepare for and Take Essay Exams

Preparing for the exam:

* Reread all materials and notes.

* Predict possible test questions; flag these when reading or reviewing.

* Be attentive to the lecturer to determine what is emphasized and what the questions are that are directed to students for responses.

* Listen for key words in lecture (e.g. "you should remember," "this is important," and "it is critical that you understand").

* Familiarize yourself with the vocabulary of the course.

* Know and understand key concepts of the subject.

Taking the Exam:

* Read the question carefully. Find out exactly what the essay question is asking. Deconstruct the question into smaller parts so you don't miss a second question imbedded in the larger question.

* Underline the key verbs used in the question such as trace, analyze, compare, etc.

* Be sure you use the writing strategy required. If the question asks you to compare two aspects, note the similarities and don't just discuss generally or summarize.

* Make an outline in the margin so you know the direction and organization of your essay. This is your map. If you stay on route, you won't get lost. This is not the time to take any side trips; they only lead you astray and then it is difficult to get back on the main route.

* Don't waste time with a lengthy introduction; get to the point right away. Your first sentence should be a thesis statement, not a question. It should have a subject and



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