ENGLISH 111/009

Exam 1

Dr. Diane Thompson, NVCC, ELI

You may take this exam in the Testing Center of any NVCC Campus. If it is not possible for you to get to an NVCC Testing Center, you may arrange for a proctor at another location. If you need a proctor, go to the ELI Policies and Procedures Screen. Select the link for Examination Proctors from the Table of Contents for information on how to arrange for a proctor.

This exam will have three parts: 

  • questions based on your reading of the Course Guide; 

  • questions about an Internet article you have identified;

  • a short writing sample. 

To prepare for the exam:

1. Print out a copy of the entire Course Guide and read it carefully. You will bring it with you to the Testing Center. Since I make changes to the Course Guide as the need arises, be sure to print out your copy within a few days of taking the exam.

2.  Think of some topic you'd like to know more about. Then think of some words that would be associated with it. These will be your key words. For example, if I wanted to know more about how global warming is affecting polar bears, I would select key words such as "polar bear" "global warming," "shrinking ice," etc. I would use these key words to start my search.

 Next, go to Google or Yahoo, or your favorite search engine, and type in your key words; you can do this one at time or put several together. There are two kinds of problems you may run into:

1. There are a million "hits" and  you can't spend the time sifting through all of them to find a good article on your topic. To deal with this, try to use the advanced search feature to limit the kinds of "hits" you will receive.

2. There are no "hits," and you don't know what to do next. You probably need to rethink your choice of key words and try again.

A good search should come up with perhaps a few hundred hits, but certainly not a million.

You should keep searching until you find an article that is both substantial and reliable.

An exam question will ask you to assess the reliability of the article, so try to find an article that has been posted by a reliable source. Major newspapers and magazines, government sites, scholarly journals and universities and colleges will offer reliable sites containing reliable articles. A personal blog or a commercial web  page aiming to sell something is generally not going to be a reliable source. Wikipedia articles come up constantly when you do a search. Unfortunately, although they are often interesting, they are not reliable, because anyone can post a Wikipedia article and it may not be critically reviewed for years. On the other hand, a page from Britannica, Encarta, or another standard encyclopedia would be reliable.

Here are two good sources that can help you to evaluate the reliability of a web site:

Bedford Research Room: How to Evaluate a Web Site

Evaluation Techniques of Internet Resources

An exam question will ask how you found the article, so as you look through the results of your search, don't just pick the first article that seems interesting to you; keep searching until you find an article that includes all the information below:

  • the author

  • the date of writing and/or posting of the article

  • the qualifications of the author and of the group posting the article that give you reason to believe that the information in the article is reliable (if the article is posted by the author on his/her own web site, then you do not need to find qualifications for the group) .

  • the URL (web address)

If the article does not include the qualifications of the author and the individual or group posting the article, go back to the search engine, type in the name of the author and see what you can find; then type in the name of the group and see what you can find. If you cannot find information about the legitimacy of the author and the posting group, then you need to go back to your search engine and find another article.

When you find a substantial article (at least five screens or 500 words long) that includes all this information, print it out. Be sure you have the information about the author, the posting group, and the date of the article along with its Internet address (URL). Write this information on the printout if you find it elsewhere.

You will be asked to answer questions about this article as part of the exam. 

3. Think about how you will answer the following question: "Write about an experience that changed your life." You do not have to write about a major, life-shaking experience. Sometimes a small experience such as getting a new pet or moving to a new house or even entering school for the first time can change the way a person sees and understands life. 

Leave two lines between paragraphs so that I can more easily read your essay.

You will write at least two fully developed paragraphs on this topic. This is a writing sample, which means it will not be graded, but I need it to be able to better evaluate your writing needs. Although the writing sample will not be graded, if you omit doing it, your exam grade will drop by 10 points (20%). 

Bring the following to the Testing Center of your choice:

Your Exam Pass (see left menu on Blackboard Forums page) and a photo ID

Your emplid (student ID number)

Your printouts of the Course Guide and the Internet article

Hacker for grammar reference (optional)

A College Dictionary (optional)


In the Testing Center, you will take a short exam that includes a few questions about the Course Guide, a question for a short writing sample,  and questions asking you to do a critical analysis of the Internet article you have brought with you. 

To prepare for the section on the web article, be ready to explain:

why the topic interests you

how you found the article

the content of the article

the author's qualifications to write about the topic

the qualifications of the group that posted the article

why you think the article can (or cannot) be trusted

You will write this exam in the Testing Center using the Blackboard testing system.  An hour should be enough time, but there is no time limit, so go to the Testing Center early enough to allow yourself plenty of time. You may use a dictionary or your English Handbook.

After you have completed the exam, I will receive it on the Blackboard testing system. I will read your exam and email your grade to you along with my comments. Allow about two weeks for turn around. You will not receive the exam back. You may keep the Course Guide printout. The www article will be collected by the Testing Center and sent to me at ELI. I will discard it after I see it, so if you want a copy for yourself, print an extra one that you do not bring  to the Testing Center.

Exam 1 Grading Criteria:

Includes printout of www article to be sent to ELI

Selected article meets all of the criteria mentioned above

Answers all questions appropriately, including the writing sample question, although that will not be graded

Is thoughtful

Uses concrete examples to support its ideas

Uses consistent, appropriate style

Uses correct, college-level Standard Written English

Exam 1 is worth up to 50 points.

(c) Diane Thompson; 11/7/1998; updated: 02/04/2010