About Preparing for the Final Exam

A couple of students have come to me in a panic, wondering what they need to do to prepare for the final exam in this class.

One of the best pieces of advice I can offer is this: DON’T PANIC.

I can’t actually tell you which questions will be on the exam, because I’m still in the process of selecting questions from those you submitted to me last class. However, I can give you a few pointers. You have an advantage, which is that you have all experienced the midterm exam, and remember the kinds of questions I asked you there. Similarly, you have all had a chance to prepare some thoughtful writing about each of the topics we’ve discussed in class during panel discussions.

You will have a choice in terms which questions you answer, but I will also try to make the question broad enough to let you talk about the things you’re most interested in/confident about. One approach would be to have classmates email you some of the questions they submitted, so that you can think those questions over. While the same specific questions might not appear on the exam, thinking about them will help you prepare for the analytical task the exam will involve.

You are responsible for everything discussed in the course. However, in practical terms, I won’t be asking anything about, for example, The West Wing.  The focus of the final exam will be on what was dealt with since the midterms. This doesn’t mean you cannot refer to Lost, Bamboozled, The West Wing, or V for Vendetta, in your answers to essay questions. (For example, if discussing the archetype of The Other in Blade Runner, you might want to refer to Bamboozled. You’re free to do that, but you should focus on Blade Runner if you do.) It does, however, mean that you will probably want to focus on things we’ve discussed since midterms.

I cannot recommend any specific topics for study, however, except to repeat myself: you’re responsible for everything we’ve discussed since midterms.

However, you probably have noticed that I am interested in a few things specifically:

  • Your opinions.
  • Your analysis of the pop culture we’ve examined.
  • Critical discussion of archetypes/genres and the anxieties and deeper meanings that they contain or reveal.
  • Application of this analytical process to how you look at your own society’s popular culture, or your society’s reception of Anglophone popular culture.

In other words, it’s all about thinking things over and expressing ideas that go beyond the surface! The preparation and reaction papers you’ve been preparing all semester long are, I hope, great practice in this.

Remember: the longest essay isn’t always the best. It often pays to sit and think a little, to write up an outline or plan, take some notes, and then start writing your ideas down. Diving into an essay headfirst without preparing your thoughts is almost certainly likely to result in an essay that is not as good as you could have written.

Finally: there will be three questions on this exam:

  • Two will be essay questions — you will have a selection from student-submitted questions in both cases. (I will probably reword the questions slightly, but they will basically be taken from the questions you gave me.)
  • Lastly, there will be one short-answer question that will require you to put the full semester’s work into perspective in terms of your general academic studies.

I think that’s all the advice I can offer. Good luck, and see you on Tuesday afternoon!

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