Studying for exams: week 9

Hells. Yes. The final week of studying.

Last week, I got my official notice of “hey, you’re taking exams, remember?”  I have my room number, my field schedule, and my test times.  Turns out they want me on campus at 9:30 in the morning for each day of testing, which I’m not thrilled about, but at least that gets the exams out of the way early in the day, I guess.

I pinned my notice up in the office and went around to check in with some of the others in my cohort.  There are about five of us taking exams next week.  Reactions to the letter ranged from, “I never want to think about this again,” to “I am cautiously optimistic,” to “the week after exams is going to feel like a rebirth.”

Seems like we’re all on the same page, haha.

Last week’s study plan was fairly successful.  I did not get as far into my world history field as I would have liked, but on the other hand, grading student essays forced home themes on Transatlantic slavery, Columbian Exchange, Asian world systems, etc.  So, I count that as productive study time.

I also threw myself into my STS preparation over the weekend.  First, I created a soothing space for my studying, complete with tea, lamplight, and minimalist instrumental music.

Kerosene lamp from faire
Like I’d use electricity…

I wrote up a 23 page outline of the major terms, methods, and theories, and then I went back and supplemented that sort of textbook material with synopses from my exam list books and reflections on what the methods mean to me as a historian of medicine.  I wrote up a practice essay and submitted it last night to one of my readers, with very encouraging results.  Seems I’m on track with balance, inclusion of theorists, inclusion of historical examples.

Although this outline approach was majorly helpful, I don’t think I have the time at this point to set up my other fields the same way.  So instead…

*   *   *

Week 9/9 plan:

Using my initial practice essay as a model, I’ll write up essays for my other fields.  This week is all about practice and pacing, making sure that I can tackle my expected themes and possible questions in the allotted time, with as much information and analysis as possible.   And also, I need to make sure that my practice essays are replicable for the exam day.

For instance, my British field requires that I write 3 questions in 5 hours which gives me 1 hr 40 min per question.   These questions are of the straightforward and historiographical sort, which means I need to practice chronology, author names, and pulling in enough information to fill nearly 2 hours on each of my given topics.  This might be a bit of a trick for me.  Cut and dry history doesn’t really turn my crank, so I’m going to have to work to find places to interject my opinion, or I’ll never remember the narrative.  My thought right now is that I’ll build the essays based on controversies within the historiography, so my answers look like problem-solving more than a) happened, then b) happened, then c)…

Then, each of my minor fields require that I write 2 questions in 4 hours, which gives me 2 hrs per question.  These questions are of the broad and sweeping sort, so the challenge here is to condense properly and make every world count.  But, thankfully, the theoretical bent to my minor fields also means that my essays will spark my imagination right off the bat, and I always write better and recall more information when that happens.

Otherwise, I need to solidify my part of the script for the fundraiser, hand back student exams, pull a couple of hours at my second job, and attend a choir retreat rehearsal on Saturday.

*   *   *

No post on March 19th, would be complete without a shout out to my main misters, Elliot and Marcus Junius-Smith.  It’s their two year wedding anniversary today!  So congratulations to them, and thank god for their stories, toads, tea, and imaginative wanderings.

Please stick around for the next year and all the years after that, guys.  And keep being crazy and lovely and crazy in love.

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Historian, novelist, musician, and imagination professional.

4 thoughts on “Studying for exams: week 9

  1. love the lamplight…a glow is never unhelpful…Thanks for sharing your week and of course you are in my thoughts daily as your finish these preparations. Stay focused and determined…Mom

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