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  • Read through the entire exam to plan an overall strategy
    advice Resources Print Friendly Format About this Guide Contributors Citation Answering Exam Questions Read through the entire exam to plan an overall strategy A n old story has it that a prof got tired of giving this advice to students so he made up a long and complex set of questions for a final exam The first instruction was to read the entire test and follow the instructions on the last page The last page had one instruction Sign your name and turn in the test Only one student followed the instructions and passed the rest failed the test because they tried to answer all the questions Not many profs will go to these extremes but reading through the entire test does help you plan your approach to the test As you go through the exam note which sections call for short answers even single sentences and which sections call for longer responses Pay special attention to the items that give you choices many students have found themselves out of time when they answer every question instead of reading carefully to see that the test called for one response in section A and one response in section B If the

    Original URL path: http://writing.colostate.edu/guides/page.cfm?pageid=1021&guideid=50 (2015-10-15)
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  • Look at each exam question to identify key words
    Analyze Compare Evaluate Argue Explain Define Generalize List Reflect Discuss Make notes to yourself of the points you want to cover in the response Begin your response by echoing the question Leave yourself 10 minutes at the end of the test period to re read Final advice Resources Print Friendly Format About this Guide Contributors Citation Answering Exam Questions Look at each exam question to identify key words O nce you ve set up an overall plan about which questions to answer first and how much time you have for each response read each question carefully Perhaps the biggest problem teachers report is that students don t answer the question asked You can t respond appropriately if you don t take the time to see what the question asks you to do and key words typically tell you what to focus on These are some of the most common key words in exam questions Describe Analyze Compare Evaluate Argue Explain Define Generalize List Reflect Discuss Warning Teachers don t always use the most precise key word for the kind of writing that will best answer the question Use your best judgment based on the content to decide if the question

    Original URL path: http://writing.colostate.edu/guides/page.cfm?pageid=1022&guideid=50 (2015-10-15)
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  • Think about what kind of writing the key word or words call for
    to yourself of the points you want to cover in the response Begin your response by echoing the question Leave yourself 10 minutes at the end of the test period to re read Final advice Resources Print Friendly Format About this Guide Contributors Citation Answering Exam Questions Think about what kind of writing the key word or words call for H ere s another reason to practice this kind of

    Original URL path: http://writing.colostate.edu/guides/page.cfm?pageid=1023&guideid=50 (2015-10-15)
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  • Describe
    Guide Contributors Citation Answering Exam Questions Describe W hen we describe we note physical and sometimes chronological details Descriptions generally rely on sensory perceptions compared to analysis that typically gets at mental abstractions Because vision is usually our dominant sense most of our descriptions rely heavily on visual details For many essay questions being asked to describe means writing about what you ve seen Writing tip Although our field of vision takes in lots of details we organize those to help remember them As writers we need to make our organizational pattern obvious to readers That s why most descriptions follow a top to bottom right to left etc consistent pattern of moving over a visual scene Sometimes the pattern is most to least important and this pattern works especially well if your description is building to a particular point Depending on the situation in which you are asked to describe you may want to organize the details of your writing according to a chronological pattern Particularly when you are recording observations that take place over a long time you may want to capture the sense of passing time by using time markers e g first later finally to organize

    Original URL path: http://writing.colostate.edu/guides/page.cfm?pageid=1024&guideid=50 (2015-10-15)
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  • Analyze
    the points you want to cover in the response Begin your response by echoing the question Leave yourself 10 minutes at the end of the test period to re read Final advice Resources Print Friendly Format About this Guide Contributors Citation Answering Exam Questions Analyze A nalyze in a test question usually means take this concept apart and look at the relationships among parts Sometimes the analysis focuses on causes and effects as for example if you were to write about media coverage and election turnout Sometimes the analysis will focus on a time sequence as it might in tracking the progress of a degenerative disease Writing tip Because we can look at relationships among parts in several different ways be sure to signal your reader how you re slicing the pie If you re writing about cause effect relationships among parts use key transitional words and phrases such as because and as a result to show the causal relationship If your analysis is based on a process use transitions that indicate an appropriate time or developmental sequence If your analysis looks at functional relationships clearly indicate the functions and their interactions In short make clear not just the parts

    Original URL path: http://writing.colostate.edu/guides/page.cfm?pageid=1025&guideid=50 (2015-10-15)
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  • Compare
    Exam Questions Compare C ompare is probably the easiest of the key terms to recognize and respond to Fortunately comparisons are also common on essay tests so they re easy to practice Compare basically asks the writer to take two or more objects theories events concepts applications or explanations and show the similarities between them One warning though when teachers use compare on a test question they also often mean contrast so don t forget to point out differences after you write out the similarities between items you re comparing Writing tip Depending on the length and complexity of your response you may find it easier to write everything about item A first and then to use that same sequence to write about item B If you re not sure you can follow the same sequence in this block approach to comparison then use a point by point method that allows you to make a point about A followed immediately by a point about B Use clear transitions whether you adopt the block or point by point method so that your reader can clearly see how the similarities and differences relate to each item in your comparison Specific advice for

    Original URL path: http://writing.colostate.edu/guides/page.cfm?pageid=1026&guideid=50 (2015-10-15)
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  • Evaluate
    the question Leave yourself 10 minutes at the end of the test period to re read Final advice Resources Print Friendly Format About this Guide Contributors Citation Answering Exam Questions Evaluate E valuate often gets misunderstood by students as compare They re not the same Comparing just points out similarities and differences evaluation requires a judgment about which theory application approach etc is superior and why Students working under time pressure are most likely to forget to write out their criteria for making the judgment in the first place This rationale is often crucial for understanding the overall judgment Writing tip Especially when you re pressed for time keep the criteria obvious and straightforward If one approach is cheaper and faster and those are the two criteria anyone would use to evaluate the approaches in question then talk about what makes one cheaper and faster Don t forget though to also show what makes the alternative approaches more expensive and slower Thoroughness does count when writing out evaluations If the obvious criteria are not appropriate in a specific context though be sure to explain why you re adopting not so obvious criteria for evaluating So long as you can justify

    Original URL path: http://writing.colostate.edu/guides/page.cfm?pageid=1027&guideid=50 (2015-10-15)
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  • Argue
    question Leave yourself 10 minutes at the end of the test period to re read Final advice Resources Print Friendly Format About this Guide Contributors Citation Answering Exam Questions Argue A rgue as a key word asks you specifically to take a position and defend it The best arguments have a narrowly focused position statement reasons to support the overall position and then evidence to support each reason If you have time you can also look at other possible positions and support again with evidence why your position is better Writing tip Most students have little trouble stating their overall position but in the heat of writing under pressure students do often forget to give adequate evidence to support that position Be sure to include not just general reasons why you hold the position but also the evidence the details examples analysis that supports your reasons If you think of a solid argument like a house you can t hold up the roof overall position with a frame reasons for the position And you surely can t keep out the rain without the substance details that covers the frame Specific advice for OT students Not all arguments need to take

    Original URL path: http://writing.colostate.edu/guides/page.cfm?pageid=1028&guideid=50 (2015-10-15)
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