Preparing for Grammar Exams

Posted on June 20, 2011


I used to be fairly confident about grammar. I thought I had learned everything I needed to know in order to effectively communicate and have people make sense of what I was trying to say in a proper way. I still think I can accomplish this, it’s not like I do not feel the same way as I did once before, but I have a better awareness that there are more things to think about than just making sense of sentences to the average ear when concerning grammar.

In order to progress in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications (SJMC) at Florida International University, you have to pass a Grammar Exam. This exam was re-designed to ultimately establish a standard level of proficiency in the subject of grammar to pick out what students are really cut out to work in any area of study of the communications field. The importance of this exam is stressed since the very beginning to all aspiring SJMC students. Resources are available but they can only prepare you for so much. The online practice tests alone are not enough, because after a while you begin to just memorize what the answers are and you do not really learn the rules for what they are. The key is to really learn why a certain word is an adverb and not an adjective, or why a verb is intransitive, transitive, liking or helping. One has to really understand what make a sentence complex, simple or compound as well as why a certain group of words makes a phrase or a clause.

In class, Professor A. Richards made grammar more simple to understand better by advising us to focus on the verb of the sentence. If you know everything about the verb then everything else about the sentence will become easier to identify as a result. Yes, the tips were helpful but maybe one day of review could not possibly be enough for the large amounts of information covered on the test. My best advise is to really prepare for the Grammar Exam with weeks of anticipation using more than two resources, like the online practice tests, the grammar book The Only Grammar Book You’ll Ever Need by Sussan Thurman, and the websites with an abundant resource on grammar information that are available in the SJMC website under the link How to Prepare. Grammar has been slowly forgotten in the public education system and is a subject that is smeary touched in the english classes. I believe its importance should be better reinforced to better prepare students for these kinds of exams.

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