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Acing Your Test on a Novel

written by: Kellie Hayden • edited by: Noreen Gunnell • updated: 5/31/2014

After assigning students to read a novel, many teachers give an exam. But what if you forget what you read? Use these tips to prepare for your next exam by focusing on summarizing the story, the plot, the characters and the literary devices used by the author.

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    Create a Novel Study Guide

    Next time your teacher assigns a novel, don't read it and forget it. Use these tips on how to study for a novel test to remember what Student you read and focus on characters, plot, and the literary devices used by the author. You can try one or all of the following:

    Step 1) Make a Reading Journal

    The easiest way to remember what happens in the book is to write a journal each time you read. You do not have to write pages and pages of detail. Find a mini-sized notebook. Each time you read, write down the pages read and then summarize the events. Right before the test, review everything you wrote. It is easier than re-reading the book before the test, plus writing down events after you read will help you to remember them later.

    Step 2) Make a Plot Chart

    Fill out a plot chart on the novel. The plot chart is in the shape of a volcano. Make sure to include exposition, rising action, the climax, the falling action and the resolution. Also, write down details or events that show parts of the plot.

    * Exposition includes the setting and introduces the characters.

    * Rising Action is the conflicts that arise before the climax.

    * Climax is the turning point.

    * Falling action is the events that happen before the resolution.

    * Resolution is the ending.

    Step 3) Chart the Characters

    Make a list of characters. Beside each character, write a short description. Then make a four-box chart. Label each box:

    * round character -- a character who is fully developed by the author and is multi-dimensional. The character's personality, background, motives, and other features are obvious

    * flat character – a character who only shows one side and is not fully developed

    * dynamic character – a character who changes

    * static character – a character who does not change

    Then, write down the character and description in the box chart. This is a great way to review characters and to understand the complexities of the characters.

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    Author's Use of Literary Devices

    If the author uses flashback, symbols, or figurative language, make note of it on notebook paper. Make three columns and label them flashback, symbols and figurative language. Keep the paper handy as you read. You should write down the page number and an example of the flashback, symbol or figurative language.

    Chances are, your teacher will ask you about the author's use of literary devices on the test. In addition, make sure to make a note of the themes used in the novel as well. Teachers almost always ask a question about the theme or themes in a novel on tests and quizzes.

    Try one or all of these tips on how to study for a novel test for your next assessment. Hopefully, you will be able to improve your retention of the novel.

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