Human Dimensions of Global Warming

How to Be Successful on your GEOG 438W Exams


How to be successful on GEOG 438W Essay Exams

  • Answer the question accurately and thoroughly (as opposed to writing about a tangentially related topic)
  • Answer all parts of the question – These questions are deliberately multidimensional and it is important that you devote discussion in each essay to all the components of the question.
  • Incorporate referenced reading assignments - If a question references a reading assignment, it is impossible for you to adequately answer that question without discussing the reading assignment –  And, ‘discuss’ means more than one standalone quote from the author in your essay or simply putting those works in your reference list.  It means you should weave what they’ve talked about into what you’re talking about and utilize their work to support your answer. This also means that the reading assignment must appear in your reference list for that essay.
  • Write in an academic tone – Students often write very conversationally. There’s never a need to start a sentence with ‘In my opinion’ or ‘I think’ – do not use first or second person (I, we, us, you).  You want your academic writing to be formal and professional.  Also avoid colloquial phrases and over-dramatic, broad, unsubstantiated assertions (climate change is destroying everything on our planet). Also avoid contractions (they’re, it’s, should’ve).
  • Follow the formatting instructions completely – Why am I being so picky with these details?  It is really not that I have strong font preferences.  Instead, it is about your ability to demonstrate attention to detail and take pride in the appearance of your work.
  • Adhere to the word count guidance – Turning in an essay that is dramatically under the word count reveals that your answer does not include enough detail. Turning in an essay that is over the word count reveals an inability to pare down your thoughts and strategically eliminate wordy phrases. It’s important to hit the sweet spot in between!
  • Avoid plagiarism – I know that it can be challenging to paraphrase the work of others and incorporate it into your own discussion, but you need to be careful with this.  Also, if you are taking something (like the definition of a term) directly (word for word) from a source – including our class website – you need to use quotation marks.  I run all exams through Turn It In, and plagiarism is taken very seriously. 
  • Stand-alone quotes – related to this, try to integrate quoted material into your discussion better. You can do this in simple ways such as starting a sentence with, “As Smith et al. discuss…” It really improves the overall flow of the essay and forces you to really incorporate quoted material with your own thoughts. 
  • Implement specified citation format properly in the text and in the reference list– This class requires APA Style.
  • Submit the exam on time – The standard late penalty applies. The due date is not the time at which you should try to upload your file.  It’s the time at which you’re responsible for already having your correct and complete file uploaded. Failure to do so will result in lost points in accordance with the syllabus.