Study Skills

Study Skills

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In-test Strategies



Once you have prepared, it will be important to develop a strategy for approaching the actual writing of the exam. In the exam, read over all of your choices and make selections early. Divide your time so that you know how many minutes you have per question and make a brief plan for each question before writing. Plan a little time to review. Begin with the easiest alternative to accumulate marks quickly and to boost confidence.

.Read over the questions, make necessary choices, and plan time. Note the relative worth of questions so you can plan your time accordingly. A question worth 50% of the grade should probably take 50% of the allotted time. Decide which questions you want to do, if you have a choice. It is often advisable to begin with questions you can do readily. Do not worry about doing the questions in order unless the professor specifies otherwise. If you fall seriously behind your time plan during the test, leave adequate space for the question you are working on, and start answering the other questions. You will be more likely to get a passing grade if you answer all the required questions at least partially rather than trying to make one or two answers perfect.

.Re-read the questions, carefully noting what each question asks you to do. At this point your knowledge about organizing essays from key words like "compare and contrast" and "discuss" will be helpful in focusing you on what to say and how to organize it. Many students lose grades because they fail to answer the question; instead they ramble on about material that may be closely related to the question but not precisely what the question requires.

.Organize your thoughts before beginning to write with a brief outline, mind-maps, diagrams. A well-organized answer will be better received than one with the same points but with a less coherent presentation.

.Write a brief introduction including your statement of thesis adapted from the question you are answering. Tell the reader how you will prove this. For example, if the question says "Compare and contrast radical feminist and liberal feminist approaches to equality." then you might begin with "Liberal feminists and radical feminists differ in terms of their view on equality. This is clear when one considers the theoretical stance each group takes on the origins of inequalities between the sexes, and on the differing stances each takes on proposing solutions to this inequality..."

.Keep your point straightforward and clear. To do this, use clear transitions to link your points. As well, include some examples or references to authors of your course; a few can be memorized and a few paraphrased (and it is wise to consult with your marker about conventions for doing this). Examples demonstrate your grasp of the subject matter. References to specific and precise examples from readings and lectures support and illustrate your points.

.Sum up simply to reinforce the coherence of your answer and review the paper for obvious errors, legibility, labelling of questions, and for things you might want to change. When writing essay answers, favour a direct, concise, precise writing style. Do not waste time trying to compose a graceful lead paragraph as you might if you were writing an essay; get to the point quickly and directly. State what you intend to discuss and develop those ideas with well-chosen examples. Demonstrate that you can analyze and evaluate the subject matter; do not merely repeat information from readings and lectures. The essay exam is an exercise in thinking and expressing yourself, not in memorizing and parroting. In other words, don't just stop at defining your terms; demonstrate your ability to think and express yourself using these terms. For the sake of your reader, be sure to write legibly, even if you have to print, and write on every other line. If your writing is virtually indecipherable, you may lose credit simply because the grader cannot understand what you have written. Writing on every other line produces a less crowded appearance, and also allows you to add material to your original answers when you proof-read them. If you use several exam booklets, be sure to number them before handing them in, for example, "1 of 3," "2 of 3," "3 of 3." Protect yourself in the event that one booklet becomes misplaced.

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