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Here are a few suggestions for writing essay exams:

Make sure you're fully prepared.  Don't just read the notes, think about them.  Make grids or tables of comparative information so that you have the key points at your fingertips.

Study with someone else the day or night before the exam. Ask each other questions and verbalize your answers without looking at your notes.  This will help you internalize the material so that it becomes second nature to you.

Don't expect to write everything you know about a subject.  You will need to be selective.  Answer the question or questions briefly but fully. Look for the significance or unique features of a subject and talk about those.  When you define something (for example, democracy), say just enough to distinguish it from other items in that category (in this case, other forms of government). You don't have to write a treatise on the subject.

Watch your time carefully.  You may have to stop and go on to the next question even though you have more to say about the first subject. You will definitely know more than you can put down in a single class period and it takes real discipline to move on.


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Copyright 1999-2000 Edrene S. Montgomery
Last modified: October 31, 1999