Surviving the Comprehensive Exam
We all go through that time when it comes down to surviving comprehensive writing exams. Once the studies for comprehensive exams are over, it gets worse. A lot of us fear writing so it seems like a terrifying idea. Here are a few tips that will help you in surviving comprehensive writing exam.
So there are things you must do before the exam and some during the exam. We have break down of the things you should do before and after the exam.
Before the Exam
- Organize the notes
Organize the notes in a manner that explain everything to you. It should make sense and should be organized in the correct order. You can use color tags to relate the concepts, authors and themes together. Always make sure that the notes are on your finger tips to find the information quickly. The color tags will help you remember where the notes were written or stored. Let’s say you wrote a couple of concepts in the red color section. Think of all the key points that you remember jotting down in the red section. The label will help you find the information.
- Keep everything you need with you
When you sit for the exam, make sure you have everything. Keep all the writing tools, notes, water and snacks with you. These are some standard things that will be required to write the comprehensive exam. However, if you are writing from the comfort of your own home, create a comfortable spot in your room. Minimize the distractions as much as possible to keep your focus on writing only. If you work with music then update the playlist with your favorite songs. Keep tea, coffee or water at arm’s length to keep you alive.
During the exam
- Write down the Basic Terms, Dates, Concepts and Authors
This step is really important when you are writing without any notes. Before you look at the question, write all the relevant information to keep it at the top of your mind.
- Read the Exam Carefully
This particular step is crucial if you have to choose the question. Underline the terms as you read the paper and make sure you understand all the things asked in the question. The key question usually lies in the end so read the whole thing.
As you read the question, think of a rough idea to answer each question. Take mental notes about the sources you will use, what theories and concepts would answer the question. It will help you fill gaps. You will be able to tell if you are missing something or all the concepts are allocated accordingly and how long can you spend in giving a response.
- Draft your Answers
Before you actually start writing, take some time to plan how you will answer the question. Sketch out an answer with arguments and thesis statements.
- Meta-Cognitive and Sign Posting
Now it’s time to draft your answers and the 5 paragraph structure will help you out. Start with an introduction paragraph and then write the rest of your answer. Use a lot of sign posting and try to be meta-cognitive in your answer. Take each paragraph to tell what every section will do and why. If your thoughts change slightly, go back and change it.
Use the first sentence as a mini introduction for each paragraph and tie it with the thesis statement and highlight what you are going to do in each paragraph. This entire plan acts as a road map to help you focus on a topic if you are running out of time.