Diary of a postgrad student – Exams!

I have an exam tomorrow.

Exams are brilliant. All those tasks that you have been putting off, get done. Even scrubbing the cupboards with a toothbrush becomes more appealing than revising. Even writing a blog post…

It’s a long long time since I had to do an exam, and quite frankly, I didn’t think I was going to be doing one again, certainly not on my Masters. The last exams I did were really difficult. I did the Microsoft Certified Professional exams when I was doing Tech support. The questions were difficult, even though they were multiple choice. What made it worse though, was that you had to answer with the answer Microsoft wanted, not necessarily the one that was applicable in day to day life. This exam will be a little like this. It’s about giving the right answer rather than being a good opportunity to show understanding.

I learnt something about myself a long time ago. I generally pass exams but I don’t get the highest score. I lack attention to detail. I am a concepts person. I am a problem solver. I am not good at using specific language. I am not good at being precise. And I’m not good at going slowly. I never was. I ran everywhere. I finished my homework straight away. I finished my exams before everyone else.

My capacity for producing output is huge. I get stuff done. I just don’t get it done in the best way possible.

Same is true for exams. I go too fast. I make silly mistakes. I never get an A because of that. I’m ok with that. I’m happy with passing.

I know how my brain works and how I learn. I am better when I can draw pictures because I have a visual memory. When I learn I write notes – not so I can refer to them later, but because writing it locks it in my head. I’m rubbish at topics with too many facts or equations to remember. I work on understanding and visuals. At uni the first time round, I got the best score in my year on the geophysical engineering topic, because I could draw pictures.

So this is an interesting experience. There is no pressure. I will do the best I can no matter how much work I put in. I am always the best version of me that I can be at that moment in time.

Some people are brilliant at exams, some are rubbish. So often, all an exam does is check how good you are at studying for exams, which is a bit pointless really as far as I’m concerned. The other thing an exam does is check how well the subject has been taught. If you have ever had a good teacher you’ll know this. With a good teacher you do well at assignments and tests. With a rubbish teacher you don’t. It’s easy to forget that when you are piling pressure on yourself.

So I’ll do my best. I will study, to the best of my ability, in a way that fits my learning style. Tomorrow I will be the only version of me that I can possibly be. And if I don’t do very well, part of that is down to me, but not all of it.

Written by:

Hi, my name is Dawn Walton and I am a 44 year old therapist that lives in the Dundee area. I'm originally from Anglesey in North Wales, but I've lived here for 17 years. My first degree was in Computing at UMIST in Manchester. Now I'm studying a Masters in Psychological Research Methods with the aim of going on to do a Phd.

I love Starbucks and Pokemon Go. So they are likely to feature in my posts quite often!

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    One Response to “Diary of a postgrad student – Exams!”

    1. Becki

      I love your blog!! It is such a relief to come across somebody who has the same learning style/approach as I do. I was always in a race with myself to finish first at everything, even from as early as primary school, even if I didn’t get 100%. Good luck with all your exams.

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