Analyzing Essay Test Questions

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Some research suggests that people attach ideas to their surroundings, so it might jog your memory to see the same things you were looking at while you studied. Bring in something you associate with success or the support of your loved ones, and use it as a psychological boost. Reread, rework, and rethink your answers if you have extra time at the end, rather than giving up and handing the exam in the minute you’ve written your last sentence. Remember that instructors do not want to see you trip up—they want to see you do well.

With this in mind, try to relax and just do the best you can. We consulted these works while writing the original version of this handout.

For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial.

When you are set a writing task, you are expected to answer the set question.

Essay exams are like any other testing situation in life: you’ll do best if you are prepared for what is expected of you, have practiced doing it before, and have arrived in the best shape to do it.

You may not want to believe this, but it’s true: a good night’s sleep and a relaxed mind and body can do as much or more for you as any last-minute cram session.The following five steps can be used to analyse ALL questions: 1. Look for topic words Topic words are easy to locate. But be careful as you may only have to write about some aspect of this topic. The ASO factsheet: Analysing the question gives you a number of common instruction words and shows you what they mean. Then, you need to match your version to the original—if you have any doubts about your interpretation, check with your lecturer.Rephrased version 3: This question is asking me why lecturers set assignment tasks in undergraduate degree work it wants me to weigh up the positives and negatives of this practice and give an answer as to whether doing assignments is a worthwhile learning activity.You need to be especially aware of the likelihood of errors, so check your essays thoroughly before you hand them in to make sure they answer the right questions and don’t have big oversights or mistakes (like saying “Hitler” when you really mean “Churchill”).If you tend to go blank during exams, try studying in the same classroom in which the test will be given.You need to use question analysis for assignments, exam essays and short answer questions. Look for any words that may restrict the topic in any way Restricting words are words or phrases that narrow the topic and make it more specific, i.e.If you learn the steps for question analysis and take 10-15 minutes to think through the question in this systematic way, then you will have a good start to writing a successful essay—one that pleases the lecturer! this is the part of the broad topic that the lecturer wants you to investigate—. Look for instruction words Instruction words are words that tell you what to do. If the lecturer wants you to describe, your answer will not be the same as when you are asked to critically assess. Rewriting the question in your own words is a good way of making sure that you have understood the question, BUT you must stay close to the original question.The more you panic, the more mistakes you are liable to make. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find the latest publications on this topic. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivs 4.0 License.Put the test in perspective: will you die from a poor performance? Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. You aren’t going to write a good essay on something you figured out at 4 a.m. If you prepare yourself well throughout the semester, you don’t risk your whole grade on an overloaded, undernourished brain.If for some reason you get yourself into this situation, take a minute every once in a while during the test to breathe deeply, stretch, and clear your brain.


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