Study Skills

Study Skills

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Essay Examinations


Planning your time in answering essay questions is more important than in objective type tests. The general rule is not to get carried away on one or two questions to the extent that you cannot answer that other questions in the time allowed. Read through the entire examination first. Get a feel for the questions you are expected to answer. If the exam allows you to choose from a number of questions, be sure to number your answers exactly to match the questions.

When you follow directions for an essay exam, pay attention to the key words the instructor has included. Such words as "list," "describe," "compare and contrast," and "outline" have special meaning. Don't "write around" the question but answer it directly. If a question asks you to list something, don't write a narrative about it. Answering essay questions directly is always the best policy.

After scanning the list of questions to be answered, choose the ones you know most about. A good idea is to prepare an outline of your answers. The outline will help you remember important ideas and facts to be included in your response. Another technique is to do a "memory-dump." This technique is discussed in the last section of this guide, "Power Study Tips."

Good handwriting is an absolute essential. If your cursive writing is very hard to read, try printing instead. Most instructors value clear handwriting. Grammar, punctuation, and spelling also count. Well-written grammatically correct answers almost always receive higher grades than poorly written grammatically incorrect answers, even though the answers themselves are the same.

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