Notes on the final exam
AMST 63: Hillbilly Highway
Fall 1997
Dr. Whisnant


 I have found it difficult to write anything helpful about the exam that does not reveal the contents of the exam itself (which is now written).  But the following brief notes may be useful:

 There will be four questions.  On each of them, you will have considerable choice as to which specific materials you will discuss:

  I.  (45 min.) A long list of IDs designed to check on your reading and general familiarity with the details of the course.  If you have done your reading throughout the semester, attended the classes, and engaged seriously and consistently with the materials and issues of the course, these should be no problem.  There is no need at all to study for this question.  You either know what you need to know already, or it is far too late to worry about it.  No one will be expected to know ALL of the items; approximately 90% correct will be considered a perfect score on the question.

  II.  (30 min.) An essay in which you compare/contrast a pair of items chosen for a list of six or seven pairs (e.g., Olive Dame Campbell and Annabel Morris Buchanan, or Moss 3 and Yellow Creek -- neither of which pairs will actually be on the exam, but you get the idea....)

  III. and IV. (45 min. each) Two questions that ask you to engage with issues, processes, definitions, or perspectives that reach across the entire region and its subregional parts, across various historical periods, and the like.

 I honestly don't know what to tell you about studying for this, except to review as much as you can in a general way.  I think what I have said above about the first question is probably applicable to the whole exam: if you have engaged seriously and consistently during the semester, you should do fine on the exam, even if you don't have a big studying marathon; if you haven't, you probably won't, no matter what you do at the end.

I hope that, finally, you will bear in mind that any exam must necessarily be a sampling procedure.  Some important questions will be asked, and some won't.  My assumption has to be that no matter which (almost arbitrary) set of important questions I ask, you would be able to answer approximately the same percentage of them with approximately the same level of skill.  This is a necessary assumption, without which one could not write an exam.  One final observation after more than 30 years of writing exams (of every conceivable type):  students who have worked seriously and consistently do well no matter what kind of exam it is, and those who haven't, don't.  Performance on exams is far more independent of the particular type of exam than students usually assume it is.

 Good luck to you all.