Final Exam Format

Download: Final Exam Format

The Final Examination will be available on Blackboard all day on Saturday, May 6. You will have 3 hours to complete the Exam. You may use your textbooks (Norton Anthology of English Literature, Volume 2 and Pride and Prejudice) 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 an A or B option. 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:

Sample Final Exam Questions

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.

  • Many of the poems in William Blake’s Songs of Innocence have a corresponding poem in his later work Songs of Experience. Pick ONE such corresponding pair of poems and explain how their similarities and differences shed light on Blake’s conception of the nature of Innocence and Experience.
  • Select ONE of Robert Browning’s dramatic monologues and analyze how it uses the monologue form to give the reader insight into the speaker’s character. Pay attention to how the poem’s speaker reveals more about himself than he probably realizes. Be sure to make very specific reference to the text.
  • Compare the way Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Joesph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness each present a specific vision of human evil. Consider what each work has to say about the origin and nature of evil and about the effects of evil in the world.
  • James Joyce used the term “epiphany” to describe a character’s moment of sudden insight that provides the psychological climax for a story. Compare the use of epiphany in Joyce’s short story “The Dead” and Virginia Woolf’s novel Mrs. Dalloway. Analyze how the epiphanies provide an appropriate climax for each story.

Page Last Updated: 3 May 2017