Writing Essays for Exams Margaret Campbell and Maeghan Gunn References: Active Learning: Strategies for College Success and OWL at Purdue
Preparing for an Essay Exam • How do you prepare and process the material? • PORPE: Predict, Organize, Rehearse, Practice, Evaluate ( Nist and Holschuh, 2002, p. 314). • Predict: • Begin several days before the exam. • Predict the areas/topics for essay questions. • Organize: • Begin three or four days before the exam. • Divide the material into overall topics, and add the specific information to support the topics. Think of an outline or a mind map (Nist and Holschuh, 2002, p. 317).
Preparing for an Essay Exam • PORPE: Predict, Organize, Rehearse, Practice, Evaluate ( Nist and Holschuh, 2002, p. 314). • Rehearse • Start 3 or 4 days prior to the test. • Rehearse several times for each question. • Read through answers several times and listen for: • How does it sound? • Does it make sense? • Do the ideas flow? ( Nist and Holschuh, 2002, p. 314).
Preparing for an Essay Exam • PORPE: Predict, Organize, Rehearse, Practice, Evaluate ( Nist and Holschuh, 2002, p. 314). • Practice • Two days before the test. • Practice your predicted questions under the same circumstances the test will be given. • Time limit • Seating arrangement ( Nist and Holschuh, 2002, p. 314).
Preparing for an Essay Exam • PORPE: Predict, Organize, Rehearse, Practice, Evaluate ( Nist and Holschuh, 2002, p. 314). • Evaluate • Immediately after you practice. • Read the answer you wrote and look for: • Does my response answer the question? • Is my thesis clear? • Does my answer have a good organization? • Do I have strong examples and supports? ( Nist and Holschuh, 2002, p. 314).
A well written answer to an essay question • organizes ideas for the general reader • addresses the specific question • offers details to back up viewpoints • models academic/scholarly language (Bouwens and Brizee, 2010, p. 1)
How Do You Write an Effective Essay Exam? • 1. READ THE QUESTION CAREFULLY. • 2. What amount of time can you give to the essay? • 3. Underline the key words for process and content. • 4. Scribble a rough outline or plan to keep you focused. • 5. Begin each answer with a one or two sentence introduction before writing the thesis. • 6. Support the thesis with references to the content. (Bouwens and Brizee, 2010, p. 2)
Specific Organizational Patterns & Key Words • “Key words” indicate how the writer should organize the answer before she writes. • Common Key Words You See at Stephens • Definition • Analysis • Cause & Effect • Comparison/Contrast • Application
Definition • Word clues • “Define X.” • “What is an X?” • Creating an answer • State what X is. • Explain X in relation to similar concepts/terms. • List distinguishing characteristics of X. (Bouwens and Brizee, 2010, p.2)
Definition: Example • Essay Exam Question Recent historians have labeled two separate movements of women’s activism in the United States as the First Wave and the Second Wave. Define each.
Analysis • Word clues • Analyze X. • “Discuss the different types of X.” • Creating an answer: • What pieces make up the whole? • Describe each part or piece making clear transitions between each description. • Conclude by emphasizing how each part makes up the whole term/concept. (Bouwens and Brizee, 2010, p.3)
Analysis: Example • Essay Exam Question: • The women of Beacon Hill represented one vocal opinion about the suffrage. Name three other opinionated groups and how their views impacted the movement, positively or negatively.
Cause and Effect • Word Clues • “What are the causes of X?” • “What would be the effects of X?” • Creating an answer • Explain the reasons why X occurred. • For each reason provide details to back it up. • Finally, what happened after X occurred? (Bouwens and Brizee, 2010, p.4)
Cause and Effect: Example • Essay Exam Question: • What cultural issues triggered the Seneca Falls Women’s Rights Convention of 1848? • Was the Convention viewed as successful? Why or why not?
Comparison and Contrast • Word clues • Compare or contrast X to Y. • How is X different from Y? • Creating an answer • Define X. Define Y. • State how X and Y are similar. • Tell how X and Y differ from one another. • Give multiple supports for both similarities and differences. . (Bouwens and Brizee, 2010, p.4)
Comparison and Contrast: Example • Essay Exam Question • When we compare the First Wave to the Second Wave, we obviously see similarities in which history has repeated itself. Simultaneously, we recognize clear contrasts. Discuss two similarities and two contrasts between the two women’s movements.
Application • Word Clues: • Apply, show how…,solve. • Creating an answer • Project yourself into a situation provided by the question and solve a problem. • Understand all the concepts, first, before selecting the ones that best solve the problem. • Be able to provide reasons for the decision.
Application: Example • Essay Exam Question • You are a former Girl Scout who has been invited to help the young members earn a badge in American women’s history. Because you minored in Women’s Studies at Stephens, the officials believe you are prepared to organize and present a one-hour session for these young teens. • What information do you want the girls to remember, and how will you share it?
References • Nist, S. & Holschuh, J. (2002) Active learning: strategies for college success. Boston: Allyn and Bacon. • Bowens, K. & Brizee, A. (2010). Writing essays for exams. OWL.com. Retrieved September 23, 2013 from http://www.english.purdue.edu/owl