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Tips on Approaching the Essay Exam

The goal has been thus far to adjust life style, study habits and study techniques to expand basic understanding of the material. Essay exams typically demand that you understand the material. A question on an essay exam may ask you to compare, or to compare and contrast or to discuss. The subject matter of the question will be based on theories advanced in the class, ideas, readings and the like which have made up the course.

Your goal in preparing for an essay exam should be to make yourself knowledgeable enough on the main themes and issues of the course to be conversant in them. You should be prepared past the definition of key terms and understand their relationship and effects on each other. You should be able to see and understand the "big picture" that this course has been trying to paint.

Make absolutely certain that you read essay questions carefully and completely before you start to formulate answers in your mind. It is not uncommon for students to lose points because they have been asked to compare and contrast two theories and they proceed to define both theories but never get around to comparing and contrasting the two. Make sure you are addressing what the question asks in the manner that it requires.

The following section looks closely at how essay exam questions may be worded and the difference it makes in how you approach thinking through your answers. You may want to read it through twice.


Last Updated: 08/20/2013

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