Posts tagged exams
As of twenty minutes ago*, I am officially done with prelims.** Because this was the first time I’d ever had a prelim in every subject (hey, scantron exams just don’t happen in Major Poets or Introduction to Acting), I’ve been a little overwhelmed, and I now certainly have a great deal of appreciation for all those poor souls who’ve had four of ‘em per semester since freshman year.
*In case you were wondering, that sentence was originally typed six hours ago.
**For two weeks, that is. Then they’re back in business.
If simply reading the word “prelim” hasn’t filled you with terror, you must not be a Cornellian. I’ll explain it by comparing different sorts of tests to members of the Norse pantheon: if ten-point quizzes are nice, gentle Baldr, then prelims are hammer-wielding, lightning-tossin’ Thor. (Can you tell that I also had an Old Norse prelim this week?) They’re basically evil midterms that happen far more frequently than just in the middle of the term.
My academic experiences so far have generally taught me more about my personal learning style than anything else. For example, though I love reading, I’ve determined that, in most contexts, it really doesn’t help me retain information–in order to fully absorb facts or ideas, I have to do something with them. As a high school freshman taking the so-called World History class (it really should have been titled “A Brief History of Neolithic Dudes Followed By Five Hundred Pages About Europe’s Past”), I mastered our vocab list by making little doodles meant to humorously represent terms like primogeniture and feudalism. Similarly, I wouldn’t have made it through the China unit in Punahou’s Asian History course without rewriting the lyrics for various songs from Disney’s Mulan to talk about the dynastic cycle instead of, say, being swift as the coursing river. Mnemonic devices, too, are my best friends.
Of course, there were also times in high school when “studying” simply meant flipping through the textbook fifteen minutes before class started. It’s a little harder these days to magically get A+s using that method, so I’ve developed a lot of different variations on my traditional review tactics. My prep for today’s art history exam involved making ten million (yes, it’s an exaggeration, but trust me: after cutting out over fifty tiny Renaissance images, I sure felt like I’d made ten million) attractive flash-cards (made on lovely neon index cards kindly given to me by one of my best friends). As a result, I now have a super-cool deck of art-cards that I could probably use for some awesome games too.
I also don’t support the “drop everything and study, study, study until the second the exam begins” theory. College seems to be a breeding ground of pre-exam all-nighters, and while I don’t judge people who find that method effective, I know myself too well to join them. I have a hard time just brushing my teeth and figuring out how to turn on my computer if I get under seven hours of sleep, so there’s no way I could ever be successful on an exam in that state.
Even though I needed to cover a lot of material before my 10:30 bed time, I didn’t skip my zumba class yesterday either. I mean, I could have exiled myself to my room and studied straight for seven hours until I went to sleep (I finished classes at 3:30), but I prefer study sprints to marathons. I always need a break after a few hours, so if I’m going to take time off anyway, why not devote that hour or so to staying in shape instead of browsing the ‘net or playing guitar? Rocking out to Latin music and getting a good cardio workout is a fantastic way to remove some of that pre-exam stress as well.
Speaking of taking a break, I think I’ll go enjoy my newfound freedom. Maybe I can get some folks together for a rousing game of Raphael Rummy or Masaccio: The Gathering.