West Chester University

Fall 2001

Spring 2002

West Chester University

Fall 2002



Course Information
  Lit 165 Syllabus
  ENG 020 Syllabus
  About the Instructor

Notes for Introduction to Literature
  Approaching Literature
  Notes on the Art of Fiction: Early Forms
  The Short Story
  Graduate Students Define the Art of Fiction
  Bartleby the Scrivener - Questions for Analysis
  Notes on Melville
  Critical Approaches to Literature
  A Vocabulary for Short Fiction and Beyond
  Study Guide for Fiction Exam
  Reading Poetry
  The Craft of Poetry
  A Catalogue of Poems
  Notes on Langston Hughes
  Lines of Continuity
  Poetry Take Home Exam
  The Birth of Drama
  A Doll House
  Study Guide for the Final Exam
  A Glossary of Literary Terms

Notes for Basic Writing (ENG 020)
  The Rhetorical Situation
  Essay #1 Assignment Sheet
  Workshop Assignment for Essay#1
  How to Write Descriptively
  Building a Thesis
  Overcoming Reader's Block
  Analysis and the Culture of Advertising
  Essay #2 Assignment Sheet
  Writing Effective Introductions
  Writing Effective Conclusions
  Propaganda Analysis
  Politics and the English Language
  Propaganda: A Sample Analysis
  Midterm Exam: Tips for Writing on the Spot
  Notes on Rational Argument
  Mapping the Parts of an Arugment

General Announcements
  Announcements for LIT 165
  Assignments for LIT 165
  Announcements for ENG 020
  Assignments for ENG 020


Go Exploring
  A Weblog for LIT 165
  A Weblog for ENG 020

Join the Conversation
  LIT 165 Discussion List
  ENG 020 Discussion List



The midterm exam is an opportunity to practice in-class, impromptu writing.

Writing effectively "on the spot" is an important skill-it demonstrates your ability to think and write on your feet. It's often used as a measurement in other classes for how well you've mastered particular subject matter because when you can present your ideas clearly and coherently in a brief essay that's proof of your understanding.

Writing in class under time pressure is quite a bit different from the process you use when you revise your papers outside of class. A number of things are different when you write essays in class:

  • Time pressure is extremely intensified; you have only a small, finite time for generating ideas, blueprinting, drafting, revising, editing, and proofreading
  • Environment may be a distraction-no comfort zone
  • You don't have as much (or any) control over the topic you need to address
  • You may have test anxiety

For all of these reasons, it's difficult to write effectively in class. Yet, if you're aware of these differences going in, you can begin to minimize the difficulties by keeping following some of the advice described below.

1. Re-state the question in thesis form. That way you'll be sure you're on topic. Make your thesis explicit. If you're asked to take a position, make sure you name that position in your thesis. (For example: Colleges should abandon the traditional grading system because it creates an antagonistic atmosphere which inhibits the learning process.)

2. Blueprint your answer. Brainstorm, pre-write, cluster-whatever it takes. Don't start writing until you've jotted down some ideas and examples and sketched an order for presenting them. In most impromptu essays situations, you won't have enough time to write the impromptu twice. Planning will help you be successful on the first try.

3. While you're writing, or even while you're planning, think of specific examples, anecdotes, and possibly even data (if you've done some reading on the subject in advance) to back up your assertions. Remember that general assertions result in partial development. A well developed essay always uses detail to support general points.

4. Leave time and space for proofreading and editing. Read your draft slowly, pointing to your words, saying the sentences in your mind to catch awkward structures, missing words or transitions, and grammatical errors.

5. Don't neglect your conclusion. Even if it's only a few sentences, your essay should sport a concluding paragraph that sums up your position and leaves your reader with your main idea. Many of the strategies that contribute to an effective introduction apply to writing conclusions. You can leave the reader with an interesting, related anecdote, or refer back to an anecdote you mentioned in your introduction, for example.







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