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Succeeding in DWC

DWC Quick Tips


Linking The DWC Subjects: History, Theology, Philosophy, And Literature

Some integration principles to think about

  • Keep the historical setting in mind when considering the other disciplines. Take into consideration how people felt during that time? These feelings, ideas, and thoughts come through in philosophy.
  • Theology changes with the times in the same way philosophy changes (i.e., the beliefs and the conditions of the time period).
  • Literature expresses people’s views and can be used to change other people’s perceptions.
  • Describing how humans structure their experiences of the world is a major aim of the DWC program.

General Tips from the DWC professors

  • Keep in mind that the roots of theology and philosophy are fundamentally different. (Professor
    Millard; Philosophy)
  • At the heart of theology is a set of ideas, whereas philosophy is orientated to answer certain fundamental questions. (Professor Millard; Philosophy)

Click on DWC Tip Sheet for information that has been provided by DWC professors and tutors from the Succeeding In DWC presentation.

DWC Listening Tips

  • Pay close attention to the first and last five minutes of class. Many times the professor will explain how that specific lecture ties into the larger themes your class is currently studying.
  • Integrating the four disciplines into a larger picture is a critical part of the seminar section of DWC. Ask questions during your seminar if the themes are unclear.

    ​Pay close attention to any timeline given, maybe even make your own. Timelines are an excellent way to put the period of time into a larger and more coherent picture; they may also help those who learn visually.

DWC Paper Tips:

For additional information visit the Writing Center.

How to get to the main idea

  • Many DWC papers are compare/contrast papers (where you evaluate the similarities and disparities of two or more topics), or an analysis of trends present in the course material. These papers should be prepared carefully – answer the questions that are asked.
  • Professors will oftentimes give the major themes of the course material during the lecture. Go to your notes to get main ideas. Specific examples should come from the readings.
  • Start out with a good basic premise (thesis statement) that answers the question and states your argument clearly. Then, begin the more in-depth analysis and research.

Tips on length and depth of the paper

  • Shorter isn’t always easier; sometimes length is required to fully address the assignment.
  • The depth of analysis/comparison should be equivalent to the detail demanded in the question, and the paper length (a two-page paper will require less research than a five-page paper, however the depth of the paper is largely determined by the demands of the question).

Thesis statement

  • A thesis statement summarizes the argument that you will make in the paper.
  • It should be clearly stated, concise, and somewhat specific as to the major points of your argument.
  • It may help you to write out your thesis statement and tape it next to your computer screen, this will remind you to stay on track.
  • Place the thesis statement in the beginning of your paper, think of it as the culmination of the introduction.

Example Question:

Explain the impact of the invention of the printing press on Western Civilization.


The invention of the printing press lead to an explosion in literacy, a widening of education, and even acted as a catalyst for the Protestant Reformation. Without cheaper copies of the Bible, people in the lower classes would not be able to read the Scriptures and interpret the meaning for themselves.

DWC Exam Tips

When studying for a DWC exam pay attention to:

  • Specific philosophical terms and definitions.
  • Key historical figures, important battles, major dates, and the order of major events.
  • In Theology, the names of councils, names of important church doctrines, descriptions of noteworthy Popes.
  • In Literature, pay attention to symbolic scenes, themes, and descriptive details that form the tone of the work.

How lectures convert into exam questions

  • Themes are good to know for essay questions, just be sure to include specific examples to demonstrate your depth of knowledge and understanding of the subject.
  • Take good notes. Most of the material on the tests is discussed by your professors during the lectures.
  • Some questions may be specifically on the readings and not mentioned during the lectures, so review the readings before each exam.

Hints from the DWC professors

  • Go through every day’s lecture notes that same day and pick out the major points of the lecture.  (Professor Millard; Philosophy)
  • Make note cards with questions on one side and answers on the other, or definitions of important words, time periods, or movements. Use these note cards to study for the examinations, they will provide a good outline of what areas are key to the material you are studying. (Professor Millard; Philosophy)
  • Form study groups, these are effective for many reasons. (Father Alexander; History)
  • The History Web sites can be a good study guide and will help you to learn in a more active style. (Father Alexander; History)

Some general multiple choice tips:

For additional information visit the Test Taking Link

  • Pay close attention to wording, in many cases one or two key words can change the whole meaning of the question, or a potential answer.
  • Keep a clear head. Stress can seriously cloud mental processes and things that might be obvious to you when you are on point are easy to overlook.
  • Eliminate the obviously wrong answers.
  • Sometimes there will be two choices, each of which appears to answer the question. But, there is always one that answers the question more fully, or in more precise detail. These kinds of dilemmas are where the readings really come into play – you must stay on top of the readings!

Essay questions on exams:

For additional essay exam information visit the Test Taking Link

  • Be sure to allow appropriate time for the essay. The more in depth or longer the question, the more time you should spend on it.
  • Read the essay question before you do the rest of the exam. This will give you a good idea of how much time you should spend on it, and your mind will be working on the essay at an unconscious level while you complete the objective section.
  • It may help you to do the essay first in cases of a long or heavily weighted essay.
  • The essay is a great place to score points, so be sure to spend adequate time and thought on it. If the essay counts for close to half or more, it pays to spend a good deal of time on it.
  • Be sure to present your thoughts clearly.
  • Specific examples of the subject you are discussing indicate to the professor your depth of understanding, and whether or not you have considered the important points the professors have been emphasizing.
  • Key literature authors, philosophers, and especially theologians are always good bets as possible essay topics, as are important movements historically or politically.
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