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ESSAY TESTS:. Dos and don’ts. A Typical Essay Test:. 2 essay questions. Answer 1 of 2 (average length: 2-3 pages in a small blue book) . Please write on only one side of the page! Write the number of the essay you have chosen (1 or 2) on the cover of your Blue Book.

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essay tests


Dos and don’ts

a typical essay test
A Typical Essay Test:

2 essay questions. Answer 1 of 2 (average length: 2-3 pages in a small blue book). Please write on only one side of the page! Write the number of the essay you have chosen (1 or 2) on the cover of your Blue Book.

Typical Format of the Questions:

1. Explain Philosopher X’s theory of yyy . How can the film XXX be said to illustrate her theory?

2. Define the theory of zzz, give an example of the theory, and identify at least two problems associated with the theory.

suggested approach
Suggested approach:
  • Read the questions carefully and select one.
  • Do a brainstorm: jot down words and ideas associated with the question.
  • Put your brainstorm into a structured outline (such as: intro, 1st step, 2nd step, conclusion)
  • Write directly into your Blue Book.
  • When finished, proofread your essay and correct minor errors!
pitfalls to avoid
Pitfalls to avoid:
  • Don’t switch topics halfway through the test!
  • Don’t try to duplicate the formal language of a philosophy text—write in your own words.
  • Don’t leave without having read your essay and corrected errors.

Q: Will I be graded for spelling and grammar errors?

A: Only if the errors indicate that you have misunderstood the content.

Q: Will I be graded for having made a mess of the paper?

A: Only if you haven’t made your intention absolutely clear to the reader!

Q: What if I’ve forgotten to write something, and I’m done with the paper?

A: Put an number or a star symbol where the text should go, and write the missing information at the end of your Blue Book, with the similar number or star symbol.

more faqs

Q: What if I make a mistake, or change my mind about something I’ve written?

A: Put a line through it, and write your correction in the margin, above the error, or at the end of the paper (with a number or a star symbol, as in the previous answer).

Q: What if everything I can think of writing is stuff the instructor already knows—should I bother writing it?

A: Absolutely. Your instructor doesn’t know that you know the material—you have to prove it to her by writing about it, in detail!

Q: What if I can think of writing more than the test actually asks for—is that okay?

A: Absolutely, as long as it is relevant. It shows independent thinking.

Q: Is it okay to add my opinion, even if it isn’t asked for?

A: Yes, as long as you address the issues from the prompt first.

what to do when you re done
  • Make certain your name is on your essay (and scantron, if applicable)
  • Make certain you have answered all the questions
  • Turn your essay (and scantron, if applicable) and the test in to your instructor
  • Then you may leave quietly!