Teaching Students How to Take Essay Exams
The purpose of a unit on timed writings and essay exams is to prepare students to write under pressure and complete a first-draft composition within a limited time. In-class essays are the basis of many courses and direct writing assessments in high school and college, and students will be more successful in their studies if they are skilled in timed writing techniques.
This unit has been taught to students at all ability levels in grades 9, 10, 11, and 12. Before we begin the unit, our students have learned the following about expository essay structure:
a. the thesis sentence
b. prewriting approaches
c. organizing the essay (shaping the essay)
d. specific detail and analysis
e. introductions and conclusions
We recommend that students learn these concepts before a timed writing unit. Since the unit presses students to work quickly, it is not as successful if they are mastering these ideas at the same time.