The materials listed below provide general resources on essay exams. Unless otherwise indicated materials listed here are located in either the Open Law Reserve Room or Closed Law Reserve Room.
Not reading questions properly is a common mistake made in essay exams. Therefore, make sure you read each question carefully and be sure you understand exactly what the question is asking.
Cracking the Code for Essay Exams
Some students dread essay exams, while others enjoy them. Some different test taking skills are definitely needed to do well on an essay exam. Time management is critical, as is the ability to organize thoughts on the fly. It is a good idea to ask for scrap paper which can be used to create a rough outline and to jot down notes before actually starting the essay; taking five minutes to read the prompt carefully, generate an initial response, and rough out an outline will improve the quality of the essay substantially.
You may often be asked in college to take essay exams. In certain ways, the same principles for writing good out-of-class essays apply to writing good in-class essays as well. For example, both kinds of essays are more successful when you take into consideration your purpose, audience and information; when you develop a thesis with support; when you prove your assertions with evidence; when you guide your readers with transitions, etc. Write out your essay, using good writing techniques. As was said earlier, essay exams are like other essays, so use the same good writing strategies you use for other kinds of writing. Keep in mind that your purpose is to persuade your reader—the examiner—that you know the material.However, there are some differences to keep in mind as you prepare to write. The most important one is the purpose for writing. Usually you write a research paper, for example, to learn more about your selected topic; however, you write essay exams to demonstrate your knowledge. You are not only conveying information, but also proving to your audience--the examiner--that you have mastered the information and can work with it. In other words, your purpose is both informative and persuasive. Keeping this purpose in mind will help you both prepare for and write the essay.While most OWL resources recommend a longer writing process (start early, revise often, conduct thorough research, etc.), sometimes you just have to write quickly in test situations. However, these exam essays can be no less important pieces of writing than research papers because they can influence final grades for courses, and/or they can mean the difference between getting into an academic program (GED, SAT, GRE). To that end, this resource will help you prepare and write essays for exams.