Response to Stimulus Exam

An Elizabethan portrait, said to be of Shakespeare.
Taylor, J. (c. 1600-10). William Shakespeare. National Portrait Gallery. Used under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0. Source:

A response to stimulus exam provides you with a range of source material, both primary and secondary, and asks you to answers a series of questions. These questions are meant to test you on all of the critical thinking skills, but will most often focus on source analysis and evaluation. As a result, make sure you practice all of these skills in preparation for the exam.


On some exams, you may also be required to write an Extended Response, so ensure you are familiar with the requirements of this kind of question.


Furthermore, it is useful to understand the format of sources on the exam, as details provided in the format can help you in answering the exam questions.


An example source is provided below, with explanations about what each element of the is:

How to Write Answers

Not only do you earn marks for having the correct answer to questions, often how you structure your answers can improve your final result. The easiest formula for writing an answer is to base it upon the wording of the question. If you follow this rule, you response is most likely going to answer the question fully.


For example, if an exam question asks:

What perspective of World War 2 is evident in Source 2?

Rather than simply writing 'Nazi', your response could be:

Source 2 demonstrates a Nazi perspective of World War 2.

Furthermore, make sure you answer everything that questions ask you. Some questions may have two parts, so make sure you have answered both.

For example, a two-part question may look like this:

What perspective of World War 2 is evident in Source 2 and is this perspective representative of a general populace in Germany at that time?

To ensure you answer all parts of the question, your answer could look like this:

Source 2 demonstrates a fascist perspective of World War 2. This is clearly seen in the source where ... Furthermore, this source is not representative of the general populace in Germany at the time. This can be deduced by ...