Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Test advice

Seven years ago, Mr. Frank Franz, who teaches in Virginia offered a list of great suggestions that will help you write better responses to FRQs.

I posted them then and every year since.

I think these ideas are excellent. The only thing I’d add to the list would be to paraphrase the question as an introduction to your response. In the last few years some rubrics have insisted that responses have introductions that label what is being discussed.

Here's what Mr. Franz wrote:

Here's the strategy I place on every FRQ I give my students. I believe it helps them focus on the questions and will help them earn as high of a score as possible. Some of these ideas are my own and some are from colleagues who have served as readers and table leaders.

Free Response Strategy

  • Mark-up the question on the question sheet.
  • Count up how many points you are trying to earn. (Look for number references, count the verbs)
  • Write as many sentences as there are points.
  • Write simple, declarative sentences.
  • Answer the question asked. Nothing else.
  • Answer every part of the question.
  • Look for time references, patterns, and passage of time.
  •  Do not argue with the premise of the prompt.
  • Skip a line between parts, but do not label.


Go ahead and thank Mr. Franz.


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