During the years I’ve taught English 101, students have come to me with questions about their writing for other courses. One of the most common questions is, “my prof. said we were having a Blue Book Exam. What does that mean?” So, I decided to create a series of activities that would not only familiarize students with the basics of taking an essay exam but would also afford practice in doing so. In short, they eventually take an essay exam over HOW TO PREPARE FOR and TAKE AN ESSAY EXAM. My course is a writing course, so the assignment is a practical one, providing service to the college and, at the same time, emphasizing qualities of good writing we practice all semester. End-of-semester class evaluations reveal that while this was not the students’ favorite assignment, it was by far the most useful. This packet includes:
• the suggested readings
• the order of class activities that I find to be successful
• a brief pop essay test covering the readings (as an eye-opening pre-test)
• activities to practice construction and de-construction of typical essay questions/answers
• list of transitions useful for an essay exam
• instructions for team scoring of exams as a form of peer review
• self-scoring of exam with results submitted to teacher in Memo format (a wee bit of technical writing, student sample provided), and
• finally, a critical thinking journal reflecting on the whole process (student sample provided).
The packet is organized in the following manner:
• Instructor notes (teacher manual) in blue font preceding each of the student handouts (18 pages)
• All the student handouts ready to use (15 pages)
I teach this unit in 8-10 hours of instruction. My classes meet twice weekly for 1 hour and 20 minutes each session. The time required in your situation might vary depending on the length of your classes as well as the frequency of class meetings.
Format is Microsoft Word, compatibility mode.
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