Dr. Florence M. Baker


Guidelines for Writing Exams


Be sure your exam is concise, well-organized and well-written. Do not include an introductory or concluding paragraph. Each paragraph should begin with your thesis statement (the answer to the question) which is followed by supporting evidence.



> This is not a research assignment - use only course materials: class lectures, textbook, assigned readings, handouts and videos.

> Cheating and plagiarism (using the words or ideas of others as if they were your own) will not be tolerated.

> You are responsible to keep a copy of all work submitted to the instructor


You exam will be evaluated using the following criteria:

Answer - Did you answer the question assigned? All parts?

Evidence - Are your statements supported with evidence from class readings and lectures?

Analysis - Depth of argument, critical thinking, original ideas, logic, and synthesis

Expression - Coherence, organization, clarity, grammar, spelling


Grades are based on the letter system and indicate the following:

A - Excellent > assignment requirements have been met and a mastery of assignment objectives

B - Good > assignment requirements have been met and an above average proficiency of assignment objectives

C - Satisfactory > assignment requirements have been met and an average proficiency of assignment objectives

D - Less than satisfactory > indicates that not all assignment requirements have been met and only a partial proficiency of assignment objectives

F - Fail > indicates that few assignment requirements have been met and little or no proficiency of assignment objectives.



1. Carefully choose your question

Choose a question that interests you and that you think you can answer best. Carefully analyze the question and if you have any difficulty in determining what the question is asking, be sure to ask the instructor for clarification.


2. Multi-part questions

Most of the essay questions assigned in this class will have more than one part. Answer each part of the question in its own paragraph in the order given in the assignment. Work on one part of the question at a time.


3. Gather your evidence

Consult the appropriate course materials and gather the information on a scrap paper that relates to the question you are answering.


4. Carefully analyze the evidence to determine your answer.


5. Compose your thesis statement (your answer to the question).

One way to do this and to be sure that you stay focused on the question being asked is to turn the question into your thesis statement. For example, “What factors contributed to the decline and fall of the Han Dynasty?” can be restated as “The factors that contributed to the decline and fall of the Han Dynasty are _________________.”


6. Outline your paragraph

Organize in an outline form your topic sentence that will be your thesis statement and the evidence, facts or examples you will be using to support your answer.


7. Write your paragraph

When writing your paragraph do not use direct quotes > paraphrase. To paraphrase means to rethink and restate in your own words (as you would do if you were writing an essay in class without notes or a text). Note that paraphrasing involves more than changing a word or two in a sentence.


8. Cite your sources

When using evidence or examples taken from the text or other class materials, it is necessary to acknowledge your source. It is sufficient for this course to cite the text or other assigned readings by the author’s last name and page number (Stearns, p. 124), the lecture as (lecture) and a video by name (The Story of Islam).


When making direct reference to or drawing evidence or examples from the text or other class materials, it is necessary to do the following:

1) introduce the direct reference, evidence or example

2) state it and

3) explain how it supports your argument.


9. Revise your first draft

You are expected to submit only a final draft of your essay, that is a draft that has been carefully edited for expression, coherence, spelling, grammar and punctuation. It is very useful to have someone help you in editing your writing, especially if that person is especially skilled and experienced in writing well.



Feel free to ask me for assistance if you do not understand the essay questions, or you are not sure how to go about answering them. You may also find discussing your ideas concerning the essay useful in developing and organizing your thoughts. I am available to meet with you during my posted office hours and by appointment.


Assistance with the mechanics of writing your essay (expression, organization, grammar, etc.) may be found on a drop-in basis at the Writing Center  (Humanities 122). Bring to the Writing Center this handout, the assignment handout and your work in progress.


When your graded exam is returned to you

carefully read the instructor’s comments and discuss any questions concerning the comments or grade you have with her.


The following symbols are used in evaluating your paper:

? placed in the margin - indicates an incorrect or questionable statement or answe

? placed over a word - incorrect choice of word

Circled word - incorrect spelling

Double lines placed under two or more words - indicates incorrect noun/pronoun agreement or noun/verb agreement