Following the sample essay is a ‘template’ exercise, where the student is given the shape of the essay, and asked to fill in the details. This is a way of translating understanding of the theory just studied into practice.

Sample essay tests. Sample essay tests require students to organize, integrate, and interpret material, and to express themselves. “Short-Answer and Essay Tests,” for guidelines on creating this type of test. Essay4Students provided research that indicates that students study more efficiently for essay exams than for multiple-choice tests: students preparing for essay tests locus on broad issues, general concepts, and interrelationships rather than on specific details, and this approach results in somewhat better test performance on all types of exam questions sample essay tests also give instructors an opportunity to comment on students’ progress, the quality of their thinking, the depth of their understanding, and the difficulties they are having. However, because essay tests pose only a few questions, their content validity may be low. In addition, the reliability of essay tests can be compromised by subjectivity or inconsistencies in grading.

A variation of an essay tests asks students to correct sample essay answers. One faculty member uses the following technique: Two weeks before the exam, he distributes ten to twelve essay questions, which he discusses with students in class. For the exam, he selects lour of the questions and prepares well-written but intellectually flawed answers for the students to edit, correct, expand, and refute. The sample essays contain common misunderstandings, correct but incomplete responses, and illogical inferences.

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