How to Write a Good Quiz
The quizzes (and exams) in this class are intended as a measure of whether students are:
1. Keeping abreast of the readings
2. Grasping the basic concepts
3. Developing a vocabulary for knowing Indian traditions
4. Learning to identify and interpret the central images associated with the traditions
5. Learning to identify and interpret the central sounds associated with the traditions
to interpret central texts of different traditions
Quizzes are not Exams
As you prepare for and take the quizzes, remember that their only purpose is to measure the basics. I do not expect exam-length responses, but concise, to-the-point answers. The quizzes are 20 minutes If you feel extremely rushed, you might be writing too much. If you have to ruminate for very long to retrieve the basics, you might not know them well enough yet.
definitions, short answers, and sometimes image identification and/or questions
on selected lines from primary texts.
Here are a few suggestions and some samples of well-written answers:
While a definition need be no longer than two or three lines, one really pithy sentence can earn the full points. The terms for definition will always be taken from the terms listed in lecture notes or in the main text, with one exception: occasionally a central term will appear from the reading for the day of the quiz (i.e., if the reading is “Seeing the Sacred” in Hindu religion, the term darsan might appear on the quiz).
The following are sample responses from past quizzes. Each one received full points:
· Dharma refers to the structure of the cosmos and especially society, and to the rules pertaining to it. A person’s dharma is his duty in life, based on his caste.
· …refers to the cycle of death and rebirth and to the whole universe, which is characterized by flux and flow.
Short answers should be 3-5 lines and get to the heart of the question, based on the lecture and/or reading. You can certainly add more, but points are gained by basics. Here are a few recent examples:
The Speculative Period ranged from 800-400 BCE. During that time, Aryan settlements emerged
and brought about the development of agriculture and urbanization. The Upanishads emerged during this time
with an emphasis on re-interpretation of older texts. That coincided with the development of
ideas of karma and moksha.
· During the Speculative Period (800-400 BCE) the Indian civilizations were becoming more urbanized and settling in cities. Principle texts include the 13 major Upanishads that were written at this time. Also, there was a stronger emphasis on self attainment and stressed a movement away from ritualized sacrifice by priests.
Q: What do Yoga and Sanyasa have to do with each other?
Image identification questions will appear on quizzes and exams. You will be asked to do two things: (1) identify the image, including the name of the object and its specific form (for example, “this is Siva Nataraja, king of the dance” or “this is a Northern temple in the Nagara style”) and (2) say something about its significance (i.e., “Siva Nataraja creates and destroys the world through his dance” or “ the northern temples resemble a series of peaks and a cave on the side. The deity is located directly under the highest peak”). On some occasions I will ask explicitly for more extended answers.
It would be
very difficult to do well on quizzes without careful reading, note-taking (in
class and from readings) and review.
Sometimes we don’t get to each of the relevant terms in class, and most
quizzes contains something based on the reading for that same day. Nevertheless, it should be fairly easy and
not unduly time- or sleep-consuming to do well on the quizzes. Here is the formula:
up with the readings, making notes on them as you go
careful notes on the lectures and check them against the posted lecture
(which give only the general structure)
your reading and lecture notes once or twice before the quiz
4. Quiz yourself. This means that you:
a. Write out definitions to each of the terms
b. Write out responses to the questions that you anticipate could be on the quiz
c. Check these responses for accuracy
will always meet with you to go
over a quiz or exam, to talk about the class, anything.
help prepare you for the exam. Be sure
to get them back! Check them over and correct them.
are only one measure of progress in
the class. They involve a good deal of
rote memorization – an essential but much maligned part of
learning. Quizzes don’t measure
certain important things -- for
example, your own creative or critical take on the material or what is most
important to you about it. They merely
show that you are getting the basics.