Will Styler's Homepage
Will Styler

Associate Teaching Professor of Linguistics at UC San Diego

Director of UCSD's Computational Social Science Program

Will’s Exam Tips and Policies

To keep everything fair and open for everybody, I’ve decided to put my exam-related tips and policies in one place.

Exam tips

Here are a few little tips which might help:

  1. Choose the best answer. There may be other answers which are debatable, or plausible, or maybe seem decent due to some ambiguity. but there should always be a best answer. If one answer is easily good to go, and another answer can maybe be made to seem OK with a fair amount of arguing, then choose the good one.

    • If you believe there’s an ambiguity or that there may be two correct answers or a mistake, first re-read the question, then raise a hand and ask.
  2. Skip questions you don’t know and come back. Don’t get ‘frozen’ and spend a bunch of your time on a question you can’t answer. If you can’t figure it out in a minute or so, skip over it and come back when you’ve finished the rest of the questions.

  3. Double-check your answers before you turn in the test. There’s absolutely no credit for finishing first, and this is extra important for bubble sheet exams, where it’s easy to go out of alignment (by e.g. putting question 37’s answer in question 36’s slot, thus missing every other question)

  4. Study by explaining! Don’t just say “I can answer/explain that” and move on when looking at a study guide question or term. Instead, explain the answer to your roommate, cat, plant, or pet rock. And if there’s something you can’t explain on the study guide, make sure you ask for help in office hours or section before the exam!

  5. If you don’t know the answer at the end of the test, write down your best guess. A blank is always going to get a 0, but your best guess might not. Maybe you know the answer better than you think!

  6. Study in several sessions across a few days, rather than ‘cramming’. Good sleep may help you as much as frenzied studying, and sleeping through an exam, or worse, zonking out in the middle of it, is a bad plan.

  7. Contact me about any exam accommodations again two weeks prior to the exam. Even if you’ve already sent the OSD letter, you’ll need to remind me, so we can make sure everything’s set up, and because not all students use all accommodations

    • If you don’t remind me about your accommodations, we may not be able to… accommodate them

Exam Rules

For in person exams, you’re expected to follow all instructions from me, your IA(s), or the exam proctor(s). I also have the following policies:

Written Answer Exams

For some classes, you may be given an exam featuring written answers and an answer sheet. To see how this looks, and to view a sample completed exam, see my sample written answer exam.

Exam Notecards

For some classes, I may specify that you may create a handwritten notecard to bring to exams containing information you might want to use for the exam. The goal of this is twofold: to give people an opportunity to bring with them information they’ll find helpful, as well as to aid in the studying process by encouraging you to go back over the material during the process of creating the notecard.

This is optional, but should you choose to take advantage of it, here are the guidelines: