LOOK FOR THE MIDTERM EXAM QUESTIONS UNDER "FILES"
Take-Home Midterm Essay Exam Expectations
IN BRIEF: Students will take a Mid-term, Take-home, Essay Exam, covering the first half of the course. The exam will be due by the beginning of the film (6:15 pm) on Monday 28 October. Questions will be posted 4-5 days before the exam is due. 20% OF COURSE GRADE
This take-home essay exam covers the first half of the course (Units I-V). You should write 5-6 word-processed, double-spaced pages on only one of the questions posed. The essay is meant to be integrative, i.e. to make use of lectures, readings, and discussions in order to make an argument that pulls material together. It should have a thesis or argument, provide evidence to support your position, demonstrate your conceptual thinking and control of information, refer with regularity to the appropriate readings and lecture material, and be clearly written. Outlining the answer in advance will help, but you do not need to include your outline with the essay you submit. Students who write a rough draft and then revise (sometimes more than once) customarily produce the best essays. The essay (uploaded as e-file to course website, please) is due at the start of the film (6:15 p.m.) on Mon. 28 October.
Questions (at least 3 or 4) will be posted by Thursday 25 Oct.
- Your papers must include your name, date, TA’s name, and section (A, B, C, or D). We prefer not to have a separate title page.
- Please indicate the number of the question you are answering at the top of the first page (e.g., “Question 2”).
- Formal footnotes are not required, but you ought to identify specific passages, either by citing them verbatim or summarizing them, and by identifying the page numbers where readers can find them. You should be referring to multiple sources, so you will need to identify the author as well as the page number, as in (Ulrich 48) or (Youngs 58).
- A bibliography is not required.
The exam is open book and open notes. Moreover, you may discuss the questions and your ideas with one another. However, the writing needs to be your own work.
Exams should be 5-6 pages of word-processed, double-spaced text. Excellent answers can be produced within the page limits; quantity is no substitute for quality. Similarly, excellent essays can be written solely from materials assigned and presented in the course. There is no advantage to using outside materials.
Suggestions for Midterm and Final Take-Home Essay Exams
- The key thing to remember is to write an essay that presents a thesis or argument that responds to the question you have chosen to answer. Too often, students approach an essay as an occasion to write down all they remember or all that a course has covered. Don’t forget you are being asked to answer a specific question, and to develop a thesis while doing so.
- An essay is an exercise in controlling information and ideas, not simply inundating the reader with them. It is not the quantity of facts and claims that you assert that counts, so much as your ability to think conceptually and historically, and to write your thoughts in essay form.
- The thesis or argument for an essay should be presented in an introduction, and readers should gain from that introduction a sense of direction for the rest of the essay. Readers should not get to the end of the introduction and wonder what the essay is about or which question is being answered. Neither should readers at any time in the main body of the essay be confused about what the author is doing or where she or he is headed. Finally, the introduction should not merely restate an exam question.
- The thesis is often said to be making an argument. Thus many would suggest that a thesis is something that readers might disagree with. But another, equally valid way to think of a thesis is to regard it as an insight into the subject being discussed. For example, your thesis could summarize the pattern—the overall trajectory—that you see of how and why historical conditions changed over time.
- In writing midterm essays, you are expected to be selective in your choice of topics and materials to include. It is neither possible nor wise in an essay to touch upon everything that has been covered in the course. Rather, you need to select for inclusion in your essay those topics and materials that are most appropriate for answering the specific exam question and developing a thesis or argument. Moreover, you may need to pick—out of all the bits of supporting evidence that are too numerous to be included—the best or most appropriate examples for illustrating your argument.
- When you have a choice of questions to answer, you ought to select the question that plays to your strengths. This implies, of course, picking a topic about which you remember a good deal, but it also implies picking a topic where your conceptual and historical thinking are strongest, where you feel you have more insights to contribute in addressing an issue.
- For this take-home, midterm exam, we expect each of you to produce on integrative essay, i.e. an essay that incorporates what you learned from lectures, readings, and discussions.