English 101 is a college course on English language and academic writing. It is an introductory course that takes place during the first semester in a college, and almost every student in the USA will pass it. English 101 teaches those basics you’ll need in college and later. Without the English 101 course, students would not get prepared for coursework and dissertations either.
Besides academic writing, the main aim of English 101 is critical thinking. As you see, one would need this course to get prepared for life as it is. However, the exam on this course is one of the scariest things for many students. It should not be, though. In this article, we are going to explain how to get prepared and pass the tests successfully.
Why is the English 101 exam difficult?
First, this exam is rigorous. It takes three days with three-hours blocks each day, nine hours altogether. The test is a real ordeal for your thinking and writing skills, patience, and will.
During these three days, students have to compose several essays. The goal is to prove they master academic writing on the required level. They have to produce papers of several types:
- Rhetorical criticism.
Teachers of the English 101 course assign complicated texts in different styles. Reading, analyzing, and discussing books will be the necessary tools to pass the exams later. In general, if you attend classes and participate in these discussions continually, you will pass your English 101 for sure.
How to prepare to pass the English 101 exams
Like it is with all the other college courses, there are no any better tricks than getting appropriately prepared. To ensure passing this exam, you need to pay attention to the following aspects:
- Refresh and polish your knowledge of English grammar;
- Train your writing skills regularly with different essays;
- Run researches on various topics and evaluate the sources’ reliability;
- Learn the rules of academic formatting styles;
- Use professional consulting and assistance.
Refer to the grammar rules and improve your knowledge
One of the things you need to take into consideration is that the English 101 course does not include grammar exercises. Its focus is text, the samples of fiction and non-fictional literature. You have to read and analyze lots of different pieces to understand them and their authors’ approaches better. And, of course, you will write a lot.
As a result, you won’t work on grammar, as you did in school. At the same time, grammatical correctness of your essays is the obligatory requirement. Errors of any kind will affect the grade, so you can’t afford to miss any such issue.
Note the following aspects you should work on to keep your grammar on a decent level for the English 101 exams:
- The syntax of sentences and the difference between sentences and phrases. Pay attention to the conditions of using both these kinds.
- Parts of speech. Note the different types of all parts of speech and their scope.
- Singular and plural forms and how they are formed.
- Active and passive verbs voice.
- Verbs mood.
- Verbs tense.
- Prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections.
Also, there are some cases where errors are frequent, and you should remember the rules and train their usage:
- The Oxford comma rule means that you need a comma before the last “and” in the list of more than two elements: A, B, and C.
- The rule of quotation requires that you always put punctuation symbols inside the quotation marks: “I think you are right,” she said.
- Usage “were” instead of “was” is correct for the subjunctive mood cases: If I were you, I would not go there. If she were here, she would agree with me.
- Incorrect contractions instead of full forms are dangerous for your writing. In case you want to use the contracted form like “there’s,” you need to make sure that it matches the form of a noun – “there’s” is for singular, not plural.
Get yourself a set of grammar exercises and spend at least 10 minutes daily to do them. Another excellent method is reading high-quality texts as much as possible to improve your vocabulary.
Train your writing skills for English 101 essays
The course requires that you create the so-called “portfolio” of many texts. While you’ll be passing the course, your tutors will assign you many writing tasks. At the end of the course, you’ll have to submit that collection for evaluation. The grades you will get for them will be 50% of your final grade for English 101.
The teacher will provide you with textbooks – the collection of ready essays and guidelines on writing such pieces. These materials will explain the essay writing process in all stages. They cover everything, from brainstorming to the final editing of the prepared text. Refer to these textbooks when you do assignments.
There are more recommendations for English 101 writing exercises:
- Always read the prompts of your tasks thoroughly and ensure that you understand every detail;
- Check the keywords – these are terms that explain what you need to do in your essay. There are action words and adjectives: what you must do, and how you must do it;
- Make your writing brief – try to express your thought in fewer words. To achieve this goal, you’ll need to pick up synonyms to the general words with a more definite meaning. It makes your text more concentrated and shows your vocabulary, as well as the ability to think and express the ideas;
- Get rid of any slang words – academic writing requires a more formal and specific style. It should not sound “conversational.” For this reason, don’t use the first-person point of view either.
The structure of your essay is essential for proper work too:
- Develop and present a thesis statement. This small fragment consisting of 1-2 sentences should explain what the essay is about and what you will prove in it. Besides, it is a central part of the piece, and you will keep it in focus while writing. All your further speculations and arguments must support the thesis statement.
- Get familiar with different essay types. When you were a high school student, you had to write lots of essays as well, and this will be a solid background for college tasks. On the other hand, college essays are more complicated. They are more extended than the typical “five-paragraphs” essays you got used to at school. Also, there are more types of them, each with its own distinctive features and focus. The best way is to refer to excellent samples of essays to understand their essence and pick up the models.
- No matter how many paragraphs your essay will include, you need to explore one idea in one paragraph. It can be a new concept or an additional argument to the previous idea. All these elements must be in a logical order, and the reader should track the connections easily. Even if the two neighboring paragraphs describe opposite views, you still need to make the logical transition from one to another.
- Learn efficient techniques for making proper Introduction and Conclusion parts. Be specific and make opening sentences strong and relevant to the topics of your essays. Avoid general phrases and refer to more catchy and actual “hooks” like quotes and references to political and cultural events.
Evaluate the sources
For your essays, you will need to do a lot of researches and process the collected data. The main requirement is that your sources must be authentic and reliable.
- Use the information from books and articles from scholarly resources. Refer to the college/university library databases.
- If you get the information from the Web, always check it and ensure that at least three independent sources confirm the same data.
- Avoid resources known for being biased or resources that can’t confirm their sources.
Learn the formatting styles and fight plagiarism
The plagiarism issue and incorrect citations are closely related. In many cases, students don’t have any intention to plagiarize, but their teachers detect this problem in their works. The cause of such unintentional plagiarism is an incorrect citation.
When you collect the information for your essay, note all sources. You must include them in the bibliography list and format the in-text references correctly. If you don’t do this, even by mistake, it will be plagiarism. There are no “better” ways to ruin an academic career than having plagiarism in an essay.
The problem is that for English 101, incorrect citation with improper syntax or elements can also be recognized as plagiarism. So, you need to be extra careful about the formatting rules.
- Get the formatting styles guidelines and always keep them at hand;
- Check which formatting style you have to use for each essay. During one English 101 course you may need to apply different styles for your works;
- Double-check the citation strings – ensure that the order of elements meets the rules. Pay attention to indents, punctuation marks, brackets, italicized and capitalized words;
- Ensure that you have correct formatting in both text and bibliography.
Refer to professionals for help when possible
A college education means that you have a lot of independent work, and you accept this. However, colleges and universities also provide numerous options for you to get professional assistance. Except for classes where you work on the subjects, you can turn to the English 101 instructors for feedback.
Note and consider all your instructors’ remarks about your texts. If you are uncertain about some of the statements – ask the tutors to clarify their comments. Remember that it is your right, and your instructor is willing to help you. You only need to ask. It will be great if you can discuss your assignments with the teachers and revise the papers together. Don’t miss this opportunity because of shyness.
Most universities and colleges also run so-called writing centers. Students can refer to their consultants if they have difficulties with essay writing. It is a useful practice, as you can get someone to discuss your paper and find some solution to move the plotline. If you are stuck with your assignment, the writing center can be your salvation.
Though the English 101 exam can be frightening, it is not very difficult. Most of the students who consider themselves not possessing excellent writing skills can learn to write on a decent level. The goal of the course is to help you all to become better specialists and to learn how to communicate. Writing skills are not some art for the chosen ones – it is a thing you will need every day. So, take your time for preparations, and pass your English 101 exam with excellent grade!