Wednesday, 14 May 2008

What to do this week?

chunyang @ Flickr

Exams are suddenly no longer just around the corner. Nerves are creeping in; you lot are (anxiolytically?) checking the blog more often per day than you were this time last week. As people feel time pinching up, the questions have taken on a common theme: how to use it most effectively in the coming days.

My answer to these questions is this:

1) Pace yourself - There is a temptation to up the pace now the hours are getting tighter, to pack more in to each one and to work more of them. This is fine but don't lose sight of the reason for all this work - the exams. If you are not fresh (fed and rested) for them all that hard work is pointless.

2) Learn by plans - If you were told to commit to memory all the characters in The Godfather films, how they relate to one another and their individual journeys through the plot, which would be better technique: learning them off a list or watching the films? I think the films, which is why I am a fan of learning references by planning essays; the arguments become the important bits and the refs are easily picked up collaterally. So, instead of just writing out references again and again blend them into arguments. The nice thing about this is that if references are absorbed in context, when it comes to wringing them out all the related references drip out too. In cognitive speak, one reference can act as a cue to activate the others, and before you know it you have a paragraph in the exam.

3) Get social - Get out of the cubicle and chat. This is good because it forces you to test your knowledge without the crutches of your notes, thus sweeping away the self-deception that is so rife with individual study. For some reason, it is also a whole lot easier to learn those references by chatting them over.

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