Final Exam Primer

Students always seem to have the same basic questions about the final, the most basic of which is “What will be on the final?”

I don’t tell students exactly what parts to ignore, as a rule, because my test questions do come from ALL parts of the text and course. What I will do in the next few days is provide you with some groundwork to help you prepare more effectively.

Rather than giving you a proverbial fish (the answers to the test), that is, I’m teaching you the skill of fishing (how to prepare effectively). Use my tips in whatever way you prefer, but I can tell you the following about the exam.

Precisely 80% of the exam derives directly from the textbook. If you have read the textbook carefully, marked important passages, and taken notes throughout the semester, you will know a lot of the material directly from the exam.

Another thing I might tell you is that skimming the book and reading it are not equivalents. Generally speaking, when I review graded exams, I make note of the most commonly missed questions. I then look up the question, consider how both the question and correct response were phrased, and look up the information in the text. Suffice to say, more than 60% of the most commonly missed questions derive from either direct quotes from the textbook or analogous examples given by the book.

To ensure that the upcoming exam questions are legitimate, I have reviewed them directly with the textbook. Without error, over 90% of the multiple choice questions are either taken directly from the textbook’s phrasing, or use an example that is very similar to the one provided by the book.

Helpful hint from your instructor.


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