My students walked into the midterm exam knowing the following things:
1) All of the options for the quotations that would appear on the short answer section (just the quotations; it was up to them to figure out what they were).
2) All of the essay questions.
3) There would be an extra credit question of...some sort.
And they got to bring a cheat sheet with them.
Now, I suppose that somewhere, out there, there will be outraged cries of "But everyone will get As!" To which the answer is...well, actually, everyone won't. People still identify things incorrectly; they still make comprehension errors; they still have trouble getting their compare-and-contrast essays to compare and contrast. It's true that fewer students will fail the exam outright, and quite possibly more students will get grades in the A and B range. But, again, many students still earn something in the C range, depending on the makeup of the class and its overall gestalt. (Even under this prep regime, I've yet to be accused of being an easy A...) The exams aren't intended as shock exercises; they're about seeing how well students can analyze literature, recognize literary conventions across a range of works, and so forth. In other words, I've given them much of the exam's content, but they still need to bring the skills they've been developing.