The best strategy for answering essay questions is


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Poorly written essay questions can test rote memory, and can lend itself to a more factually-based answer. At the same time, well-crafted multiple choice questions can test higher order thinking as described above. Therefore, it is important to be cautious when assuming essay questions automatically test higher order thinking.

IELTS Reading: Top 10 Tips

There is also an assumption that when students are writing an essay question, guessing has been eliminated, which is a misnomer. Bluffing is when students provide vague or generalized content in order to pad or add credibility to their writing. Many times, when grading large amounts of essay questions and when time is a factor in grading, it can seem that students who write a lot have a deeper understanding of content. However, succinct writing can be just as, if not more, effective in answer an essay prompt. Therefore, instructors need to be aware not only when constructing essay questions, but also during the grading of the potential of bluffing.

As stated before, it is important to always think about the intentions and learning objectives of your assessment tool. Are you hoping to assess a baseline of knowledge, or is this a tool to be used to assess critical thinking and problem solving skills. Writing out explicit, clear and concise learning objectives will aid in how you create your essay questions.

Understanding what you want your students to express will help you work backwards in creating your essay question. Many times when students are given an essay question in an examination, it can feel extremely overwhelming. If we provide too vague of an essay question, students will feel the desire to write everything they know about the topic, many times to the detriment of actually answering the question. Therefore, providing clear boundaries and limitations in your question and scenario will help students focus their answer. Instead of having a need to write everything down, they will be able to formulate a clear response to your question if your question is clearly stated.

Not all verbs are the same! Be mindful of what you want students to do. If you want students to provide an explanation, verbs like describe or explain might be useful. If you are hoping for students to provide their own interpretations with supportive evidence, verbs like analyze or evaluate. This is similar to the previous idea of writing out your learning objective but takes it one step further. Since you have already written out your learning objective, use the same language for the essay question. Essay questions are not essays.

Essays go through a process of drafting, editing and revision. Essay questions on a test very rarely get edited, and generally do not start from a place of an outline or skeleton. Understand that your students are under considerable time pressure and many of them will start writing immediately even before drafting an outline.

Therefore, be mindful of the time pressures of the writing and adjust your grading accordingly. Be clear as to your expectations on the quality of writing, the use of bullet points and short form, and other ways students can save time on the actual writing.

Why do instructors give essay exams?

Also be mindful of how many essay questions you can effectively put on an examination. Even if each question could be answered in 30 minutes, the more you add, the slower students will be to answer subsequent questions due to mental and physical fatigue. One possible shortcoming of essay type questions is that they can promote bad writing habits. This is mainly due to the fact that students, very rarely, concern themselves with strong writing skills when completing an essay question on an examination.

Therefore, it is up to the instructor to ensure that writing quality does not degrade during essay-type questions on a test. Integrating writing support during the course is not enough, for writing an essay or an assignment might be quite different than writing an essay question in a short period of time. Answering multiple choice questions Read the directions very carefully before you start. When looking at the questions, always try to work out what the answer is before you look at the possibilities.

Creating and Scoring Essay Tests

Use a ruler to make it easier to see where to enter each answer. Answer the questions you know first, mark the ones you are fairly sure of and go back to them - leave the difficult ones till last. So don't dwell on a question — move on and come back to it if you have time. If you finish before the time is up, go back over your questions and answers to check for reading errors. Multiple choice question exams video Watch this brief video tutorial for more on the topic. Multiple choice questions exams transcript Read along while watching the video tutorial.

Open book exams Open book exams i.


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Revising for an open-book exam … Open book exams focus attention on your understanding of the topic, and your ability to communicate it. Concentrate on this when revising, rather than trying to remember facts. If you are working from a literary text, make a list of significant events in the order they occur in the text. Learn the order so you will be able to find them quickly in the exam room.

If you know your text well, you won't waste time searching through it. Make sure you know what is allowed and what isn't. You may not be allowed to mark pages with bookmarks or tags, or the amount of annotating may be restricted. Check that you have the correct edition of an allowed text book. Earlier or later editions may be quite different. Answering questions in an open-book exam Don't forget to take the text to the exam room!

Exam strategies

You won't be able to borrow someone else's. Don't be tempted to waste time in the exam searching the text for new quotes or information. Use it only for quick reference or confirming information or quotes you already know. Plan your essays without referring to the text - otherwise you may be tempted to usea previously planned but irrelevant answer. Remember that what's being assessed is yourunderstanding of the topic, and to show that you must give a relevant answer to the question.

Think before you quote - make sure quotes support your argument, not replace it. Note that you will only gain marks for your own arguments, not someone else's words, so don't waste time copying long quotes. Integrate mini-quotes of three or four words so that they occur naturally in a sentence: e. The blinded Oedipus' desire to be "far from sight" reflects both his abhorrence of knowledge, and of others knowing him. If you use direct quotations or paraphrases from your text, you should acknowledge them with page or line number in the body of your answer, plus author's name and year of publication the first time the text is mentioned, just as in an essay.

However you don't need to include a bibliography or reference list. Preparing for open book exams video Watch this brief video tutorial for more on the topic. Preparing for open book exams transcript Read along while watching the video tutorial. Oral exams Oral exams for languages provoke similar anxieties to giving presentations. Revising for an oral exam for a language course Listen to, or watch a radio or television channel in your chosen language.

Even if you don't understand all the vocabulary, get used to the rhythm and expression of the language. Practice with another student studying the same language or better still, a native speaker.

Set yourselves a topic and talk to each other for a set time. Set forfeits for lapses into English! If you have been given topics to talk about in the exam,make sure you know the key vocabulary. Learn conversational pleasantries in your chosen language like "Good morning", "Pleased to meet you", "Excuse me", "Sorry", "Please", "Thank you" and "Goodbye" and use them with your friends in the run-up to the exam so that they become automatic.

Undertaking an oral exam Act confident even if you aren't. Smile when you enter the room and shake hands with the examiner. Make eye contact during the exam. Ask questions as well as responding to them.


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  • Thank the examiner when you leave. Breathe deeply and regularly to calm nerves. Take a bottle of water in case your mouth is dry - slightly warm is better than ice-cold. Take your time! Don't rush into giving an answer before you've thought about what you want to say - you will get confused and make mistakes.

    Take a breath and think before you speak. Listen to the whole question carefully before you start constructing your answer. It's tempting to latch on to one word that you recognise and start thinking of your answer, but don't- you may miss an important part of the question. Know how to say "Could you repeat that please?

    If you missed part of a question or didn't understand it, ask for it to be repeated. Some people deal with public speaking best by putting on a 'disguise' - dressing more smartly than usual, or wearing glasses if you usually wear contact lenses, for instance. Others feel better if they are more casual and can pretend it's an ordinary situation. Think about how you would deal with this best.

    Tips for Creating and Scoring Essay Tests

    Preparing for oral language exams video Watch this brief video tutorial for more on the topic. Preparing for oral language exams transcript Read along while watching the video tutorial. Seen exams For some exams, students are given the question ahead of the exam, giving them time to research and prepare.

    the best strategy for answering essay questions is The best strategy for answering essay questions is
    the best strategy for answering essay questions is The best strategy for answering essay questions is
    the best strategy for answering essay questions is The best strategy for answering essay questions is
    the best strategy for answering essay questions is The best strategy for answering essay questions is
    the best strategy for answering essay questions is The best strategy for answering essay questions is
    the best strategy for answering essay questions is The best strategy for answering essay questions is

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