Study Method for Essay Tests

Especially good for classes tested with Essay:  English, Political Science, History

(Developed by Houghton College student with a 3.2 average, who is DYSLEXIC, with disabilities in Reading, Spelling, Foreign Language and Math.  His method minimizes reading demands. He enrolls for 13 to 15 hours each semester.   This method takes practice to perfect.)


Listens to lecture and takes notes (he is able to take good notes).

Selective Reading:

Four days before test time, he scans appropriate readings, taking limited notes on concepts important for the exams.  At this point he has the study questions to guide him.  He dwells on important quotes that provide support for concepts and ideas necessary to answer the study questions.  He takes only two pages of notes per chapter or author.   He combines lecture notes and text to answer the study questions; he ends up with main ideas from the lecture, supported by quotes and information from the readings.  When he reads selectively, he is really preparing directly for the test (For English class, he has to read everything due to active participation required in class,)


He returns to his lecture notes, finds those pertaining to the upcoming test and staples those notes together.  (This helps him be mentally organized and keeps him from being overwhelmed.)  He has now taken lecture notes, has read selectively, and has notes from both lecture and book.  He combines these two sets of notes ;  the method varies from class to class.  Most of his professors give a set of study questions.  Keeping these questions in mind, he keeps reviewing both sets of notes.  If he feels he not getting it, he’ll rewrite them into one set of notes to make a study sheet.  These notes are reviewed twice before the exams.  Since the notes only occupy two sheets of paper, it doesn’t take that long.  (He doesn’t find it necessary to write practice essays but some people might find this beneficial.)


You must be able to demonstrate a level of understanding of material (lecture and text), and understanding of the author viewpoint (where he/she’s coming from), and your personal opinion (for or against) the topic.  You have to be able to support your opinion through your knowledge of the material.   Make sure you can do this when preparing study questions.