On Quizzes and Exams

A quiz is a short exercise designed to see if you have mastered basic material, and made sense of it. It is perfectly possible for everyone in a class to get an A on the quiz, since the limited scope of the question doesn't allow for a lot of variations in the answers.

If the quiz has an identification question, you should be prepared with

(a) the date of the event, or death date of the person. My own convention is to expect either (1) the precise date (e.g. 632), or (2) the date correct to within 12 years plus or minus (e.g. for "632," 644 is acceptable, 645 is not) or (3) the date stated in quarters of a century. Thus for a date 649, the only correct answers would be "2nd quarter of the 7th-century" or "2nd quarter of the 600's."

(b) the significance of the idea, person, or event, for the topic of the course. Why has the instructor included this identification in this course?

(c) especially for longer identifications, as much more information as you have time to write.

Text Identifications are designed simply to see if you've done the reading, retained it, and placed it in the context of the course. For a given passage, you should identify the author, the work, (not "the Sourcebook," rather, "The Biography of the Prophet by Ibn Hisham"), and what the selection is doing within the work as a whole and/or what it's significance might be.

Examinations, may or may not include quiz-type questions, but it will certainly include essay questions.

Essay Questions are first and foremost, essays. To the extent possible, your answer should have an argument, and a structure. This is particularly true of take-home essay questions. Your goal should be to make an argument, and in the process to tell me as much as you can about the topic at hand. Relating the questions to readings, to other parts of the course, or to relevant topics outside the compass of the question itself can enhance your success on the question.

Take-Home Questions are essay questions that you have time to prepare and revise. So of course the standards for them are higher but you are not expected to do more than can reasonably be done in the time alloted; unless stipulated, you should not have to do any additional research. In answering these questions, you should pay particular attention to the instructions for answering them: May you or may you not collaborate? What is the page/word limit? Should you/may you do additional research?

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