The exam

It is tremendously important that you read all instructions on the exam carefully.  Do not rush through instructions just to get at the passages and essay topics.

For short answers, be sure to explain how each passage is important to the work's overall themes, or statements about life, humanity, the culture in question, etc. It is a good idea to include the words "the passage is significant because" in each short answer, and also to identify particular themes as such, using the words "theme" or "message," or "statement about life [or humanity, or the culture depicted in the work, etc.]."

With the essay, make sure your introduction establishes what your topic is and identifies the specific works you are discussing. Support claims in body paragraphs with concrete references to particular situations and events from each work you discuss.

Don't be in a rush to finish before the period is over!  That extra twenty minutes of freedom you might gain by writing a thin, hasty essay can be more costly than it's worth.