A New Strategy

So here we are at the end of week six. Week six at Bangor University is exam week, so I’ve been doing my best to regurgitate all the things we’ve been learning the last five weeks. One bonus for me is that I had a cold, and a headache during every exam I did, not to mention the constant running nose, the head aches and the tiredness during reading week.

Naturally that was quite a thought provoking topic as I looked over how the whole thing turned out. These exams are worth about 1.5% of my degree, so they’re at a stage where I should be making them count.

Let me put this exactly as it looks in my mind. I don’t like exams, and the reason for that is that I don’t enjoy preparing for them. I don’t enjoy the impossible situation that accompanies content modules. What do I mean by this? I mean attending a lecture, and then needing to read 45 pages of a book, for each of the five lectures, for three topics, to learn and internalize them, and to show evidence of extra reading in the exam.

Yet people manage it, so there must be something I can do to get myself there. Well, this is my plan:

1. Attend every lecture and make a reasonable effort to make notes – weather I ever read those notes or not again is irrelevant. Taking notes helps concentration, and also gives the information a more permanent base.

2. Re-watch every lecture as a podcast, and highlight bits. – if nothing else, this creates a second pass over the content, strengthening it in my memory. It also then makes chances to ponder, see how much emphasis each aspect of the lecture was given, and to decide how much required reading needs to be done.

3. Use the textbook to delve deeper into things I don’t understand, or that are of importance. – This is a third pass over the important parts of the course content, and a detailed look at the parts I need to know. Things should be starting to become fluent by now.

4. Make many flash cards covering all the terms relating to each subject. – Key terms act as a cue for the things learnt in lectures. Using flash cards frequently will build fluency in recall, and is a time effective way to have a cue to all parts of the topic.

5. Do at least something in the way of extra reading for each module. – A friend of mine, who teaches college students said you can tell in the answers students give who has done extra reading, through the ideas and the ways of thinking they demonstrate. With the extra time I have I can do some extra reading, of something I like, and I will be satisfied with that. I choose not to worry about it any further that. What happens happens.

One of the problems for deep thinking students like myself, is that I cannot bear for any bit of information to be left behind, because logically, it could all be necessary for the exam. The problem is not lack of time, but lack of strategy. This is what we call working smart, not merely hard.

Well I hope I can report success at Christmas!

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