Saturday, May 14, 2011

Nuggets of Info - Exams

I have a very simple approach to exams: panic. There are some pros and cons to this, of course. The cons obviously include the bad health stuff. However, I think this is offset by the pros. Panicking releases adrenaline. Adrenaline makes us focus in a weird way. This focus helps us work. In the twenty four hours before an exam I learn just enough material to be able to formulate an answer. My studying is literally a massive cramming session.

Long term study doesn't work for me. I can't make myself do it. It bores me. I don't have the drive, the focus, the willpower. So I go for the short term stuff. My short term memory is less deceptive. It doesn't always work, which is why I have to drive all the info in there. I have more or less mastered this, for myself.

I read the notes. I highlight stuff as I go along. When I am done, I go through these notes, and I write down the highlighted stuff in abbreviated form. I do this for the two-three questions for each exam. I then do a quick read over these notes. If I did this the night before an exam, I then go to sleep. The next morning, before the exam starts, I aim to test my knowledge. I jot down the key points. Just simple, memorable terms. I then add the extra info onto this. I compare this to my notes.

If other people are doing the same question, we talk about the topic. Mostly we have stuff to tell each other. We remember everything better that way.

When it comes to the really boring stuff, like Jeremiah (Oh... My... God...), I find making some humour out of it helps. Like summarising it in a contemporary form. Using my Jeremiah summary: His message in the second and third periods of his ministry can be summarised to the following: "Do what I say or die, bitches." The last word isn't necessary for his ministry, but it helps me remember it when I picture him as a (street) gangster suddenly stepping up and leading people in a time of great despair: people look down on him generally, but he knows what's best. And it works. I remembered everything I needed to know about Jeremiah for my exam.

My approach to exams isn't recommended. I mean, it's very likely that lots of people approach them in this way. But I kind of have to focus on each exam as they come. This year, I have thirteen written exams (after having already done an entire module based only on continuous assessment!). If I tried to prepare for thirteen exams all in advance, I would never get time for myself.

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