Archive for December 2015

Exams: Ideas, Tips and Encourgement

December 16, 2015

Students are writing exams. This season of furious studying and writing and handing in assignments brings out the best in some students and the truth of all students – not necessarily the best.

Those students who have paced themselves through out the semester to attend classes, do readings, complete assignments are studying notes of their notes. Literally they examine the chapters on the exam and make notes from the their own notes. This is an excellent method. My only suggestion to them would be to also review the chapters of the textbook, especially noting what the teacher emphasized in class. As I am teaching, I always indicate what parts are especially important because my first year students can not always discern this for themselves.

There are also groups of students who attended classes, mostly regularly but missed some, not used to juggling their time, and they are asking questions about completing assignments. Therefore they most certainly are in no position to study for the exam. They are trying to catch up to everyone else. I don’t blame them totally. It is tough to be a first year college or university student with the added responsibilities and requirements of independent projects and assignments. Also, many of them have part time jobs and sorting out their homework from their assignments is not always the top priority.

It is this group of people I have compassion on as long as they are endeavoring to make an effort to hand in some of their past due projects. Even if late marks are deducted or their scores are not high, they will have learned something besides the content itself. If we do not give them a chance to do missing projects, they may lose heart and not even try on the exam. If we deal with them on a one to one basis, students may have a chance to learn there is a place for mercy and that they could have achieved a higher score had they completed it on the due date.

There are some students who attend the exam or test but did not attend any classes. They Did not do any projects. This group might excel on exams worth more than 50% of their grade but in most cases, only writing the test or exam will not get you the credit or any where near it.


Multiple choice:

Only indicate one clear choice – if you change your mind, circle the correct answer or rewrite the letter or number so it is very clear only one answer is chosen.

If you are not sure of the answer- use logic – omit the answers that are clearly errors. Narrow the scope.

Short answer

Read the question carefully. Circle the main verbs in the sentence. Figure out exactly what it is asking of you. Write as much as you know about the topic. If you only put a couple of points, the teacher cannot give you part marks. If you cover the topic more thoroughly, you have a good chance of getting the full marks.

Essay – Structure the essay in the style taught by your professor. Minimum 5 paragraphs – introduction, three main points and a conclusion. Use at least 1 page to create an outline of your essay. Decide on the main points before you begin to write. The outline will guide you through the discussion. Try to use 2-3 references to the material in each body paragraph. You could use more but do not use less. Content means you are expected to know the information taught and discussed in class.

You are done but there is more class time left – don’t stop!


double check your multiple choice – read the question and double check your answer.

Proof read your short answers. Be sure you have a minimum of 3 or more points for each one.

Essay – Read your thesis statement. Find out if it needs any changes. Read through your body paragraphs – to see if you have 3 or more proofs for each point. You may catch errors in spelling or grammar or even the content itself.

Use this past test/exam writing period as a chance to learn. Next semester – make a schedule for yourself for homework and assignments. Make school your top priority.

Make study notes from your notes and if possible, form study groups to quiz each other as part of the studying.

Do your best this semester – plan to excel in the next semester.