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What To Do at Test Time

The moment has arrived for the actual essay exam. The first thing you should do is read all of the questions to get a feel for what is generally being asked of you.

One of the real dangers of an essay test is that you may know a lot about one or two of the questions and less about other questions. The tendency is to write, write, write about that with which you are most familiar, which results in using much of the allotted test time. Then you look at the clock and you've just about run out of time for the remainder of the test.

By reading all of the questions first and allocating time accordingly, you also will get a feel for how extensive or brief your essay replies need to be. If you are to answer four essay questions in an hour, you could probably write one or two pages for each question. But a 10-question one-hour essay exam should tell you to be brief, possibly writing only one or two paragraphs per question.

You also should budget your time according to the number of questions being asked. For example, if a one-hour essay test asks four questions, then you should allocate about 15 minutes per question. On the other hand, if a one-hour essay exam asks 10 questions, each question is worth about five to six minutes of your time.