Study Aid for Final
Places to begin:
What the exam will be like:
- The exam will be slightly longer than the mid-terms. It will be comprehensive
(cover the entire course) but with more emphasis on the material since
the mid-term than before. Half the grade will be matching, multiple choice,
short answer, half essay.
- The extra credit will again be available. It will be a oft-quoted passage
from an oft-quoted speech.
- Remember that although the exam will have essay questions like on the
mid-term, the questions may not be exactly the same sort of questions.
Essay questions may ask you to explain why you believe a particular leader
succeeded or failed as a rhetor, to relate general lessons you have learned
about leaders and their discourse, to describe some common characteristics
of leadership in the century, to characterize particular arenas of leadership
such as political or moral, or to compare and contrast various leaders'
use of particular rhetorical themes or strategies. I assume that you will
know the speeches that we have talked about in class well enough to use them in answering
Some advice on preparation:
- In preparing the exam, I work hard to make certain that the most important
things from the semester are tested. As you study each unit, ask yourself
what is most important to know about that unit. Knowing what is more important
is a testable quality of your knowledge and it helps you prepare efficiently
for the test. What is most important will emerge from the lectures and from the discussions.
- The course is divided into units. Learning about each of those units
will be natural as you study. In addition, however, I want you to know
similarities in American discourse over those units (and subunits) and how American discourse
has and has not changed over the century. So compare the units to each
other frequently as you study.
- Remember that there are three kinds of skills you will need to demonstrate
on the exam:
- Mastery of information. For this you have some "review
sheets": lecture outlines on the web, your readings, and your notes
from class. This type of question requires that you recall information
that you have learned. The normal methods of memorization have proved useful
to students in the past: flash cards, challenges to members of a study
group, good old fashioned cramming.
- Interpretation of discourse. Other questions will require that
you evaluate and interpret the ways in which leaders have used discourse
to respond to moments of public exigency. Your notes and review sheets will
help you access information to help you perform these analyses, but you
must go beyond the information to interpret. For this, your participation
in class is the only preparation. You can review the questions
we have been using all semester, and apply them to the moments of leadership
that we have studied. If you are studying in groups, challenge each other
to evaluate the speeches that leaders gave in key moments and then critique
each other's answers.
- Learning about leadership. Finally, essay questions will ask you to demonstrate what you have learned about rhetoric and leadership during the twentieth century. These questions will ask you to draw from the other two kinds of knowledge: to produce information on particular or general principles of leadership and to demonstrate or critique those principles in speeches you have studied. Formulate a list of questions of this sort that could be asked. Go over possible answers. Again group study with questions posed to each other and lively critique of answers are an assist in mastering this knowledge.
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