TEST PREPARATION TECHNIQUES
1. The Purpose of a test is to find out what you DO know; anyone could make a no-pass test.
2. My intention is to test Your ability to apply taught skills--Your ability to draw inferences from what we studied and not just repeat word for word what was discussed each period will be evaluated.
3. Format: The usual form is essay--that eliminates the "multiple guess" factor and allows for a thought-out and reasoned response. The examination could be closed or open text, or some combination of the two.
4. Sample concepts from the course you are taking:
To ask whether it is TRUE or FALSE that Beowulf violated the honor code in the first fight makes little sense, and it isn't really important in and of itself. What makes more sense is whether you can select and defend a position as you do in a paper. For a regular period the form is three essays of which one is required, and you choose one of the remaining two. The required question will vary throughout the class. Modifications will occur on a short period day.
Of more importance than asking you to list what makes a novel Gothic, would be to evaluate your ability to apply a concept in Nietzsche, for example, to The Monk. So doing would demonstrate how Lewis' concepts such as the Monk's moral values in dealing with Matilda are (or are not) sustained: at work here is his relationship to God
Since Midsummer Night's Dream operates on two levels transcending from Bottom's literal and rather unimaginative perspective that confuses art with life, a question might concern how Shakespeare uses his perspective to enlighten us to the unseen world of the supernatural, simultaneously blending humor and philosophical insight.
In an age of secular materialism, Gene Roddenberry suggests that technological and scientific progress may lessen the need for a spiritual perspective. A question might be to critique that perspective by explicating an episode ("Who Watches the Watchers") that seems to sustain the premise, but in reality may have serious limitations.
Since Tolkien readers have noticed a variety of influences on his career, a question might require you to list them, discuss them comparatively to see if Tolkien was aware of conflicts.
1. Tests will vary between open and closed book. If passages have to be analyzed, I will scan them into the test.
2. Taking a cue from the Style Book, your response to any essay question should be to turn the question into a thesis (that must be proven like a thesis for a paper) and the answer--using the textual support--is in the rest of the paragraph.
3. Sample questions and commentary:
There is a fatal flaw in the honor code of the tribes mentioned in Beowulf that would have resulted in the destruction of that society. What is that flaw, and indicate what--according to the poem--prevented that destruction. Give appropriate textual examples from all 3 fights.
READ THE QUESTION CAREFULLY--some lose points NOT for an incorrect answer, but for not addressing the question. FIND WHAT THE QUESTION IMPLIES, AND MAKE THE THESIS YOU WILL DEFEND-This question gives you information (use it)--there was a fatal flaw that would destroy the culture. The question asks for two elements: 1) identify the flaw, and 2) what prevented that flaw from destroying Anglo-Saxon culture?
THESIS: The flaw in Anglo-Saxon society was the unending cycle of revenge an eye for an eye--that the honor code demanded for the preservation of one's fame. What modified the code and saved society was the humanizing effect of Christianity.
PROOF: Use specific examples to prove the thesis--Grendel's mother's attack to avenge her son, the killing of Aeschere, and Beowulf's revenge etc. Examples must come from all 3 fights as the question demands.
Although the Monk appears to be theologically quite close to God, there are subtle moral and psychological indicators that he might indeed have serious personality disorders that could threaten his value system. Discuss this issue referencing a "Gothic" philosopher that might sustain the argument.
READ THE QUESTION CAREFULLY--some lose points NOT for an incorrect answer, but for not addressing the question. FIND WHAT THE QUESTION IMPLIES, AND MAKE THE THESIS YOU WILL DEFEND-This question gives you information (use it)--what indicators were there that he was close to God? (His sermon in chapter one), there are personality disorders (his dream), The philosopher could be Nietzsche.
THESIS: The indicators that the Monk may be morally and psychologically disordered are his dreams regarding Matilda, dreams which predict what is dramatized at the end of Chapter II. Nietzsche belief that "God is dead, and we have killed him..." suggests that moral anarchy results when the institutions designed to nurture our souls may in reality do the converse.
PROOF: Use specific examples to prove the thesis--the dream, the fall from grace, the Monk's family, Nietzsche and moral insanity.
Why did Shakespeare choose the most literal character in Midsummer Night's Dream to alone see the fairies? How does he dramatize his revelation."
READ THE QUESTIONS CAREFULLY--some lose points NOT for an incorrect answer, but for not addressing the question. FIND WHAT THE QUESTIONS IMPLY, AND MAKE THE THESIS YOU WILL DEFEND-This question gives you information (use it)--this question seems simple, but requires certain 'subtle' inferences: 1--the most literal character is Bottom, 2--he cannot fully understand what he experiences, which validates their reality since he is not capable of distinguishing between art and reality. What is the implication?
THESIS: Although Bottom lacks the imagination to 'create' the fairy world, there reality is validated by his very lack of imagination. Dramatically, Shakespeare validates their existence in Act IV, scene i by having Bottom allude, from his usual confused perspective, to the Biblical passage in which.....
PROOF: You would need to know at least the Act IV passage, the Duke's perspective on imagination in V,i, and of course the Biblical allusion...
Why did Roddenberry's believe that secular humanism alone could save humanity from cultural and moral anarchy? Support your answers with examples from his writings and episodes we examined.
READ THE QUESTIONS CAREFULLY--some lose points NOT for an incorrect answer, but for not addressing the question. FIND WHAT THE QUESTIONS IMPLY, AND MAKE THE THESIS YOU WILL DEFEND-This question gives you information (use it)--this question seems simple, but requires certain 'subtle' inferences: 1--you would need to know what he said in the HUMANIST INTERVIEW, especially regarding his view of organized. 2--the next step would be to substantiate further by showing how his convictions were dramatized in episodes such as "Who Watches the Watchers."
THESIS: Roddenberry argued that a culture's belief in divine authority could jeopardize progress since its non-rational perspective could inhibit the mind's ability to understand natural law.
PROOF: The question requires several supports: 1--what did Roddenberry believe about reason and faith, and what philosophical premises are operative (i,.e.--neo-classical philosophy), 2--What is the content of the Humanist Interview?, 3--what episodes are most illustrative of his thesis, and are there any flaws in the argument that progress is contingent on reason's triumph over faith?
Readers of LOTR know that Tolkien argued several perspectives simultaneously, which often conflicted. Discuss three such influences, indicating by textual support if a conflict existed, and whether you believe Tolkien resolved it as the story unfolds.
READ THE QUESTIONS CAREFULLY--some lose points NOT for an incorrect answer, but for not addressing the question. FIND WHAT THE QUESTIONS IMPLY, AND MAKE THE THESIS YOU WILL DEFEND--This question requires several steps:
THESIS: Since Tolkien believed in Anglo-Saxon culture, English Romanticism and the Catholic church's thinking on moral issues, he used all three in the LOTR, creating tensions, the most important of which were between the Anglo-Saxon desire for revenge and the Church's teaching on forgiveness. In the LOTR, Gollum's treatment by Sauron and the Hobbits best dramatizes this conflict.
PROOF: You will need to cite instances of revenge in Beowulf, and who opposes it and why?
Then locate a parallel example in LOTR regarding Sauron. The must be contrasted with those in LOTR who may want revenge, and who, like Hrothgar in Beowulf, argues against it. Then trace the results...
1) watch time--don't spend 80% of the period on one question and omit one.
3) use INK ONLY.
4) save time at the end to check answers.
5) SINCE THE TEST COULD BE OPEN BOOK, YOU WILL BE ADVISED IN ADVANCE WHAT TO HAVE IN CLASS. THIS WILL BE ANNOUNCED IN CLASS AND POSTED ON HOMEWORK CENTRAL. YOU MAY NOT SHARE THESE MATERIALS DURING THE TEST, SO HAVING THEM IS IMPERATIVE.