Essay Exam Tips

Write legibly on one side of the paper: Neat work often receives a better grade. However, do NOT recopy your essay to make it more legible. While you are spending time re-copying, others will be spending that time writing down more ideas and facts. Write as neatly as you can from the beginning.

Also See:

Essay Key Terms to Remember
General Test Taking Hints

Helpful Hints Before The Test

• Never underestimate the power of sleep and food. To stay focused, it is essential to get a good amount of sleep and have nutritious meals before taking any test.

• Know your subject. These tips for taking essay exams will not make up for poor preparation.

• When studying... review any class notes as well as any pertinent readings. You may want to call a classmate to discuss your ideas.

• If a topic is given in advance, brainstorm at home! You may want to outline you thoughts or even write out a rough draft. This is particularly helpful if you only have a short period of time to write your essay.

• Relax before the test. Cramming the half hour before the exam is only going to stress you out.

During The Test

• Carefully read all instructions before starting your exams. Underline or circle any key words. Determine if you must answer all questions or only a few.

• Prioritize. Note your time limit and act accordingly. Occasionally glance at the clock so you can manage your time effectively. Check the point value of each question so you can manage dedicate more time to question to questions worth more.

• Focus on your thesis. On a timed test, fancy introductions are not as important as having a clear main idea. Be sure your thoughts are clear and don't waste time on minor details.

• Support your ideas. Use examples and explain your reasons for the ideas you give. Show that you know the material. Use correct terminology.

• Use a piece of scratch paper. It is always a good idea to write a quick outline so you can be sure your ideas are well organized. Also, if an idea comes to you, you can quickly jot it down and come back to it later for further development.

Also see in class writing strategies.

More Helpful Hints For Essay Tests

• Answer the question you know more about first. If you answer the harder questions first, you may run out of time. Another advantage of this strategy is that while you are responding to an easier question, you may remember the answer to the more difficult question.

• If you are not certain of an answer to a question, write as much as you know. You may receive partial credit even if your answer is incomplete. As you write, you may also recall more information. Unless you run out of time, do not leave any question unanswered. An unanswered question means 0 points for that part of the exam.
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