Final Exam Format

Download: Final Exam Format

The Final Examination will be available on Blackboard all day on Saturday, December 9. You will have 3 hours to complete the Exam. You may use your textbooks (Norton Anthology of English Literature, Volume 1 and Hamlet) during the Exam. Indeed, I will assume you have your textbooks in front of you when you are taking the Exam.

The Exam will consist of 4 short essay questions, each worth 25 points. For each essay answer, you will have a choice of A, B, or C options. Please do not answer more than one option per essay; I will only read and grade your first answer for each question.

Although you will have 3 hours to take the Exam, you probably won’t need the entire time. But do be sure to have an uninterrupted block of time set aside for the exam; once you begin the test, you must finish it in one session.

The Exam is comprehensive, so questions can and will cover any of the works we’ve studied this semester. Some questions will ask you to analyze a single work, others may ask you to compare two or more works in some way. (I have provided some sample Exam questions below.)

Your essay answers should make specific reference to the texts you discuss and should avoid plot summary, paraphrase, and vague generalizations. I suggest that you make a brief outline before you begin writing your answer. That should help you write a focused analysis rather than a jumble of (not always relevant) things you happen to remember about the text you’re discussing.

There is no required length for your answers. Do not assume that a long answer is always better than a short one. A brief, focused answer is likely to be much better than a long, rambling one.

Occasionally, though rarely, students run into technical problems while taking the Exam. If you have any such difficulties please email me, and I will do what I can to help you.

I have tried to design the Exam to give you an opportunity to show what you know. I do not design questions to try to trick you or out smart you. If you have read the works carefully and listened attentively to the lectures, you should do well. If you haven’t, you will find the Exam quite challenging.

A good test is a learning experience. You should expect to learn something while taking the Exam, to discover new insights into what you’ve read, not just to regurgitate some things you’ve heard in class.

If you have questions about the exam format, please feel free to email me:

Here are some examples of the kinds of questions I might ask on the Final Exam. While these specific questions will not be on the Exam, questions very much like them will be.

  • Compare how the adversaries they face help to define the different kinds of heroism of Beowulf and of Sir Gawain in Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Consider what these heroes’ encounters with their supernatural opponents tell us about the values each hero represents.
  • Select ONE sonnet from Sir Philip Sidney’s Astrophil and Stella and write a brief analysis of it, paying particular attention to the conventions of sonnet form and to how Sidney uses those conventions to dramatize his complex and conflicting emotions. (Make sure you clearly identify which sonnet your are analyzing.)
  • Analyze how The Garden of Adonis (in Book 3, canto 6 of The Faerie Queene) serves as a kind of critique or criticism of The Bower of Bliss (in Book 2, canto 12). Consider what each place represents and how the details of their descriptions function symbolically. Discuss how the Garden provides a more positive version of the elements from the Bower.
  • Compare how the narrators in the “General Prologue” to The Canterbury Tales and in Gulliver’s Travels each establish a particular tone for the work. Think about the relationship between the authors (Geoffrey Chaucer and Jonathan Swift) and their narrators (the pilgrim Chaucer character and Lemuel Gulliver). How do the authors use their narrators to create satiric and comic effects that would not be possible without them?

Page Last Updated: 23 July 2017