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The Essay Exam. Lecture 21. Recap. What is Literature Essay? Parts of Literature Essay How to Write Literature Essay? Checklist after writing your essay Types of Literature Essay Topics for Literature Essay Example; Hamlet. What is an essay exam?.

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the essay exam

The Essay Exam

Lecture 21

  • What is Literature Essay?
  • Parts of Literature Essay
  • How to Write Literature Essay?
  • Checklist after writing your essay
  • Types of Literature Essay
  • Topics for Literature Essay
  • Example; Hamlet
what is an essay exam
What is an essay exam?
  • A test in which you write an essay or a certain number of paragraphs in response to a question.
  • It helps the teacher check your ability to organize and write paragraphs or an essay.
preparing for the exam
Preparing for the Exam
  • Know what is expected of you. What content will be covered? How many questions will be on the exam?
  • Ask yourself:
    • What do I know about this material?
    • What do I need to know?
taking the exam preview
Taking the Exam: Preview
  • Skim over the entire exam to get a sense of everything you have to do
  • Estimate how much time you have to spend on each question
    • For example, if you have 4 questions and a 2 hour time period, plan for 30 minutes to organize, write, and review each question.
taking the exam preview1
Taking the Exam: Preview
  • Identify which essay question you want to answer first
  • Read the question carefully
    • Many students do poorly on essay exams because they misread the question.
  • Underline key words or phrases
  • Determine whether the question is asking you to respond to more than one thing
essay question action words
Essay Question “Action” Words
  • Discuss- Consider important characteristics and main points.
  • Compare- Show how items are similar or different; include details or examples.
  • Contrast- Show how items are different; include details or examples.
  • Define- Give an accurate meaning of the term with enough detail to show that you really understand it.
essay question action words1
Essay Question “Action” Words
  • Explain- Give facts and details that make the idea or concept clear and understandable
  • Evaluate-React to the topic in a logical way. Discuss the merits, strengths, weaknesses, advantages, or limitations of the topic
  • Summarize- Cover the major points in brief form; use a sentence and paragraph form.
essay question action words2
Essay Question “Action” Words
  • Describe- Tell how something looks or happened, including how, who, where, and why.
  • Justify- Give reasons that support an action, event, or policy.
  • Criticize-Make judgments about quality or worth; including both positive and negative aspects.
  • Prove- Demonstrate or establish that a concept or theory is correct, logical, or valid.
in essay exam
In Essay Exam…

Organization and Neatness have merit..

before writing out the exam
Before writing out the exam:
  • Write down their key words, listings, etc, as they are fresh in your mind.
    • Otherwise these ideas may be blocked (or be unavailable) when the time comes to write the later questions. This will reduce "clutching" or panic (anxiety, actually fear which disrupts thoughts).
set up a time schedule
Set up a time schedule…
  • To answer each question and to review/edit all questions
    • If six questions are to be answered in sixty minutes, allow yourself only seven minutes for each
    • If questions are "weighted", prioritize that into your time allocation for each question
set up a time schedule cont
Set up a time schedule… (cont..)
  • When the time is up for one question, stop writing, leave space, and begin the next question. The incomplete answers can be completed during the review time
  • Six incomplete answers will usually receive more credit than three, complete ones
read through the questions once and note if you have any choice in answering questions
Read through the questions once and note if you have any choice in answering questions…
  • Pay attention to how the question is phrased, or to the "directives", or words such as "compare", "contrast", "criticize", etc.
    • See their definitions in previous lectures
  • Answers will come to mind immediately for some questions
before attempting to answer a question put it in your own words
Before attempting to answer a question, put it in your own words
  • Now compare your version with the question.
  • Do they mean the same thing? If they don't, you've misread the question. You'll be surprised how often they don't agree.
think before you write
Think before you write:
  • Make a brief outline for each question
  • Number the items in the order you will discuss them
get right to the point
Get right to the point
  • State your main point in the first sentence
  • Use your first paragraph to provide an overview of your essay.
  • Use the rest of your essay to discuss these points in more detail.
  • Back up your points with specific information, examples, or quotations from your readings and notes
teachers are influenced by compactness
Teachers are influenced by compactness
  • completeness and clarity of an organized answer
  • Writing in the hope
  • that the right answer will somehow turn up is time-consuming and usually useless
to know a little and to present that little well is
To know a little and to present that little well is,
  • by and large, superior to knowing much and presenting it poorly--when judged by the grade received.
writing answering
Writing & Answering
  • Begin with a strong first sentence
    • that states the main idea of your essay.
    • Continue this first paragraph by presenting key points
writing answering1
Writing & Answering
  • Develop your argument
    • Begin each paragraph
      • with a key point from the introduction
    • Develop each point
      • in a complete paragraph
    • Use transitions
      • or specify, to connect your points
writing answering2
Writing & Answering
  • Hold to your time
    • allocation and organization
  • Avoid very definite statements
    • when possible; a qualified statement connotes a philosophic attitude, the mark of an educated person
  • Qualify answers when in doubt.
    • It is better to say "toward the end of the 19th century" than to say "in 1894" when you can't remember, whether it's 1884 or 1894. In many cases, the approximate time is all that is wanted; unfortunately 1894, though approximate, may be incorrect, and will usually be marked accordingly.
summarize in your last paragraph
Summarize in your last paragraph
  • Restate your central idea and indicate why it is important.
  • Complete questions left incomplete,
    • but allow time to review all questions
  • Review, edit, correct
    • misspellings, incomplete words and sentences, miswritten dates and numbers.
directives for essays
Directives for Essays
  • "Directives" ask you to answer, or present information, in a particular way.
  • Review these, and most of all note that there are different ways of answering a question or writing a paper!
  • Examine qualities, or characteristics, to discover resemblances. "Compare" is usually stated as "compare with": you are to emphasize similarities, although differences may be mentioned.
  • Stress dissimilarities, differences, or unlikeness of things, qualities, events, or problems.
  • Express your judgment or correctness or merit. Discuss the limitations and good points or contributions of the plan or work in question.
  • Definitions call for concise, clear, authoritative meanings.
  • Details are not required but limitations of the definition should be briefly cited.
  • You must keep in mind the class to which a thing belongs and whatever differentiates the particular object from all others in the class.
  • In a descriptive answer you should recount, characterize, sketch or relate in narrative form.
  • In an evaluation question you are expected to present a careful appraisal of the problem stressing both advantages and limitations.
  • Evaluation implies authoritative and, to a lesser degree, personal appraisal of both contributions and limitations.
  • In explanatory answers it is imperative that you clarify and interpret the material you present.
  • In such an answer it is best to state the "how or why," reconcile any differences in opinion or experimental results, and, where possible, state causes.
  • The aim is to make plain the conditions which give rise to whatever you are examining.

Don’t be Nervous!

It’s difficult to relax during an exam, but there are steps you can take to be more successful during an essay exam.

steps to success
Steps to Success
  • Read the essay question carefully.

Underline key words in the question that will help you decide what kind of information to include in your answer.

steps to success1
Steps to Success

Practice: Read the exam question below. Which words are the most important words in the question?

Question: Many parents do not allow their children to attend the funeral service of a person who has died. Do you think children should be allowed to attend funerals? Why or why not? Give three reasons.

steps to success2
Steps to Success
  • Rephrase the question into a statement.

This can serve as the thesis statement for your essay answer or the topic sentence for a one-paragraph answer.

steps to success3
Steps to Success

Example:Look at the example below of how a question can be rephrased into a statement.

Question: In what ways has T.V. affected society?

Thesis Statement: Some of the effects of T.V. on society are…

steps to success4
Steps to Success

Practice: Read the exam question below. How can you rephrase this into a statement?

Question: What is your major in college? Why did you choose that major? Support your answer.

Thesis Statement:I chose the major of computer science because I enjoy working on computers, it will be easy to find a job when I graduate, and it is a challenging field.

steps to success5
Steps to Success
  • Brainstorm on paper. Write down notes, words, phrases, facts, quotations about the question. Do this on another piece of paper. Get down as much information as you can.
steps to success6
Steps to Success
  • Focus your answer. Read through your brainstormed notes and select information for your answer. Cross out irrelevant ideas in your notes; add any ideas that you think are important.
steps to success7
Steps to Success
  • Make a rough plan of your answer. Decide on the order that you would like to follow when presenting your ideas. Prepare a rough outline with your brainstormed notes.


Thesis: ------------------

Subpoint A

Subpoint B

Subpoint C


steps to success8
Steps to Success
  • Write your essay. Remember to look at the clock while you write. You need to know how much time you have left!
steps to success9
Steps to Success
  • Reread your answer during the testing period. Be sure that it is complete. If you want to add something, write it in the space above the sentence where you want to add it and use an arrow.

One of the main effects of the atomic bomb on

Hiroshima was the ill health of people affected

by the ^ of radiation.

high amount

steps to success10
Steps to Success
  • Edit your answer. On an in-class writing exam, you will not be able to edit as carefully as you can when writing an out-of-class essay. However, because some mistakes in grammar and even spelling can be confusing, it is important that you edit.
review of steps
Review of Steps

On an essay exam…

  • Read the question carefully.
  • Rephrase the question into a statement
  • Brainstorm ideas
  • Focus your answer
  • Make a rough outline
  • Write your essay and look at the time!
  • Re-read your answer
  • Edit
  • What is an essay exam?
  • Preparing for the Exam
  • Taking the Exam: Preview
  • Essay Question “Action” Words
  • What merits in Essay Exam?
  • Writing & Answering
  • Following Directives for Essays in Exams
  • Steps to success
  • PowerPoint Presentation by Ruth Luman: Modesto Junior College