Wednesday, January 05, 2011

This is what's up

So I'm studying for my PhD prelims exams. Other programs might call them quals, or something else, but we call them prelims, and they are the HUGE exams that we have to take (well, not just take, but also PASS), before we can officially do dissertation stuff. Did I mention that they are huge? And scary? And start on Monday?


So I've been back from Christmas break since Friday night and studying (or attempting to study) since then. And it has has NOT been awesome the last couple of days. I hit a point yesterday, as my wise past-quals BIL warned me I would, where I realized I was getting limited returns on my study efforts - my brain was full, and trying to hammer more in there was not working. And I was really worried. So I kinda took 23 hrs off. eep. Not really intentionally, or premeditatedly, but...yeah.


I had a break-through tonight! I FINALLY started doing what I should have been doing all week, but was too scared and felt too unprepared to do - drafting outlines to previous prelim questions, to see how I would have answered them, and tying all these ideas and theories together. I've been DREADING doing this, because any time I've read a previous prelim question I've TOTALLY PANICKED because I have had NO IDEA how I would answer it! And that happened today, too, but I guess I am finally at a point where I decided I had to muscle through that, so I did and guess what?! I know some stuff! :) I'm writing down the references that I can think of off the top of my head, and how I would tie them in, and then I'm looking up more (from among my reading list - nothing new at this point - good heavens!), and...

IT'S FUN!!!!!


One thing that's been really worrying me is that I've been feeling like I know so few research studies that I can reference along with all the theoretical stuff, but in doing this outlining-and-looking-things-up thing I am finding that I only need small prompts to remember studies that I've read and analyzed, so that's been a HUGE relief - woohoo!

So I'm feeling lots more hopeful and relieved and I think I'll actually be able to sleep ok tonight instead of lying awake worrying about everything I DON'T know. (You should try that sometime...actually, no, don't.)

AND I'm actually looking forward to studying tomorrow - more fun!

All of which goes to show that I really like my field (which I initially typed as "fiend" - Freudian, anyone?), or that I'm up too late.

Good night.


Janell said...

You can do it! Rah rah!

Sarah Dunster said...

you know what? You're smart.

A lot smarter than some of my BYU professors were.

And they all had PhD's.

My prediction: you'll kill it. Because you're smart and you work hard.

Jeremy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeremy said...

Giving an exam that hasn't been pilot-tested to a relatively small number of examinees, and then basing important decisions off the results is the antithesis of sound assessment practice.

Examinees are as likely to pass (or fail) the exam because of error (due to rater/task variation or internal inconsistency) as they are to pass (or fail) the test based on ability.

I had one senior faculty confess to me that qualifying exams were just a way to get undesirables out of the program.

Given the degree of error in the exam, your high ability level, and your (ahem) desirability, I'd say you have no reason to be afraid.