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Taking Essay Tests


Read over your notes and review chapter summaries in your text ... Refer back to your text or a lecture ... Questions with a Twist ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Taking Essay Tests

Taking Essay Tests
  • A Power point presentation by Cherie Dargan

  • Many people get nervous just thinking about
    taking an essay exam.
  • However, essay exams are a part of college life!
  • Lets look at how to be successful.

  • How to prepare for an exam
  • Different kinds of essay test formats
  • Using the rule of three, outlines and maps
  • Typical types of exam questions

How are essay tests different?
  • Most tests focus on whether or not you have
    learned specific facts, terms, or formulas
  • Essay tests require you to demonstrate your
    understanding of concepts by writing anywhere
    from several sentences to a page or more

Objective vs Subjective
  • Test question formats like true/false, multiple
    choice, and matching are examples of objective
    questions. There is a correct answer.
  • Essay test questions often include both an
    objective and subjective aspect, if you are asked
    your opinion.

Preparing for essay exams
  • Ask about format (well discuss this more later)
    and scope (how many chapters will be covered)
  • Read over your notes and review chapter summaries
    in your text
  • Our text suggests you write sample questions and
    plan answers

Types of Essay Tests Formats
  • OK, so what are the different types of essay

Three Types of essay tests
  • Short answer
  • Paragraph answer
  • Long answer

Short Answer
  • Used to define a term or identify a researcher
  • Typical for introductory courses
  • Write one to two sentences

Paragraph Answers
  • Instructor may say to answer in a few sentences.
  • Safest to develop a short thesis statement and
    write an organized paragraph.

Long Answer
  • More complex questions
  • Explore bigger concepts
  • Clue may be question at top of page and then rest
    of the page is blank!

Planning is Essential!
  • Take a few moments to think about the
    question--note key words
  • Jot down a scratch outline of ideas to discover a
    three part thesis statement
  • Use the cognitive map or simple outline to
    organize ideas
  • Add examples

  • Introduction (three reasons)
  • Body -- first point examples
  • Body -- second point examples
  • Body -- third point examples
  • Conclusion

Cognitive Map
Using Maps
  • Write the topic in the middle of the circle
  • Each spoke or branch is a key idea
  • For a short essay, each branch is a paragraph
  • You can add details under each branch
  • Read like a clock

The Three Part Thesis
  • Main idea of your essay
  • Three part means to add a number
  • Gives reader sense of organization
  • Builds in mini-outline to essay
  • Three reasons, three ways, three arguments, three

Nine Types of Essay Test Questions
Define or Identify
  • Refer back to your text or a lecture
  • If your teacher has enhanced the textbooks
    definition, or given one of his or her own, you
    may want to give both
  • Example What is the definition of stress?

Recall Details
  • You may need to summarize or paraphrase materials
    covered in class
  • Generally you are not asked to give your own
  • Example What did Hans Seyle say about stress and
    the human body?

Explain the Significance of a Concept
  • You will either be given or need to supply some
    specific examples
  • Show how these examples are significant
    (important) as in the big picture
  • Example Why is stress important for police
    officers to understand?

Apply Concepts
  • Many courses emphasize themes, ideas, or concepts
  • Teachers may ask you to apply these to a real
    life situation
  • They may supply you with a case study or ask you
    to create one yourself
  • Example Eric Shaw case in Iowa City. What role
    did stress play in his death?

Comment on a Quotation
  • It may be controversial
  • You may or may not have seen it before
  • It will deal with a topic discussed in class
  • Example Stressed out? Try my fool proof
    remedy…simply scream.

Compare and Contrast
  • One of the most common types of essay questions
  • Comparison -- how two things are alike
  • Contrast -- how they are different
  • Question may ask for both
  • Example How are Eustress and Distress different?

Synthesize Information
  • As you will recall, we discussed the process of
    blending ideas from several sources -- or
  • You may be asked to reflect on your textbook and
    supplemental readings
  • Example Based on your text and outside readings,
    what are some ways to cope with the stress of
    finals week?

Analyze Causes
  • Many courses examine the causes and effects of
    trends, events, and actions
  • Your teacher may ask you to speculate on the
    causes of something, based on your readings and
  • Example What were some of the causes of the Viet
    Nam war?

Criticize or Evaluate
  • This goes beyond giving your opinion
  • You must develop a logical, sound argument based
    on appropriate criteria
  • Remember the rule of three!
  • Example How would you evaluate the recent
    response of Wall Street to the Japanese economic
    roller coaster?

Okay, now youre an expert!
  • But what should you do once you have the test in

But what should you do once you have the test in
Pay Attention to Details!
  • Read the instructions FIRST!
  • Should announce test format
  • May give special instructions for example, it
    may tell you to use your book, notes
  • Might have time limits

More details
  • If you are taking it electronically, you will
    want to pay attention to your file management.
  • Save it with your name or initials in the
    document name (Amy_test.rtf) and as a rich text
    format document

What else? More factors
  • Look at the test as a whole
  • How many pages? How many questions?
  • You will need to budget your time accordingly

Taking a Closer Look
  • Each question will have at least one key word --
    this tips you off to the type of information
    being requested
  • It will help you to annotate the questions and
    find those key words.

Questions with a Twist
  • Pay special attention to questions that ask you
    to do two things, such as list and describe.
    This is called a question with multiple parts.
  • You will not get all of the points unless you
    answer ALL of the parts.

Subjective vs. Objective
  • Many of my test questions ask you to analyze your
    own skills or experience there are no right or
    wrong answers!
  • This is called subjective--its your opinion.
  • Others have a specific right answer in mind--such
    as the steps to write a summary. This is

In Conclusion
  • Essay tests require a different kind of
  • You will need to review concepts, ideas
  • You should clarify as much as you can about
    format and scope
  • Look for key words
  • Give the teacher what he/she wants!
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