Preparing for the midterm exam:

 

Here's the most important thing:  Make sure you've done all the reading.  More than once.  I can't stress enough how important this is.  Most of the exam is based on the reading we've done for the class; if you've done it carefully the exam should be relatively easy, but if you haven't you will struggle.  Paying attention in class--while helpful--will not be enough.

 

The kinds of questions I ask:

 

There are two types of questions on the exam. 

 

First are identifications and definitions: can you recognize character names from a story?  Can you remember the key elements of a critic's approach to fairy tales?  Can you associate author and title with significant elements of a story?  This type of question tests your reading and your recall.  It's important, though, because what you remember will be useful to you as evidence in your essay--all analysis, that is, requires specific examples, and these questions (and studying for these questions) may help you to generate them.

 

The second type of question requires you to synthesize material from several parts of the course in an analytical essay.  I may ask you to apply the comments of one critic to stories and/or other material which s/he didn't analyze, for example.  Or I may give you a quotation from a work we haven't read and ask you how what we have read helps to elucidate it.  In other words, the essay question asks you to use all the work we've done so far to generate something new.