Diary of a postgrad student – the end…sort of

This is my “I’m-happy-my-exam-is-over” face.

On Friday I had my advanced stats exam.

I’ve always had an interesting relationship with exams. I kind of feel that by the time you sit down and do it, it’s too late. So there is really no point getting nervous.

An exam is only testing what you already know, so again, by the time you get close, it’s too late to worry.

It’s also testing a very specific skill, that is a very small part of your skills overall. Not everyone is any good at the “exam” skill. So again, I can be chilled because I’m generally ok at exams.

The other thing it’s testing is how good your teacher/lecturer is. If you have really understood a topic, then exams are going to be straightforward. If they have confused the heck out of you, even with self-study, you may not do so well.

So all of that considered, there is very little pressure when it comes to exam day.

The other thing I don’t do well is revise. I have revised the night before for every exam in my life except for my A-Levels (the exam you take at 17/18 years old). I hate forgetting more than I’ve learned!

And I do everything quickly. I always have. I lack attention to detail. And patience. So I am often one of the first to finish my exams. And I always make silly mistakes. So I never get the best mark. But I do usually pass.

I have to admit, I didn’t expect to be doing exams again. I think technically it was called a quiz, but when you are expected to sit down for an hour to an hour and a half at the end of all your lectures and answer questions, that’s an exam.

The weekly quizzes along the way have been a bit hit and miss. One week I get a B, then the next week I get an MF (I think technically this is a marginal fail, but I like to think of it as a Mother F***g fail!)

The course textbook is the Andy Field book. It’s a lovely looking book and I see what he’s trying to do to make it real, but at the end of the day he explains complex stats using complex stats. He doesn’t know how to describe it simply (I will be selling his book by the way if anyone is interested!). His lectures, however, are brilliant. He really makes the topic easy to understand using examples and building on them. So I decided to revise by only watching his lectures on YouTube. It took hours. I basically had to fit a whole course of lectures into a couple of days, around clients and family life. But I managed.

So I went into my exam having not opened a single text book. Bit of a bold move on my part!

And here’s the thing…

…I quite enjoyed the exam.

All the questions were about applying what I knew to data. And that’s what I enjoy. So I should be ok. I will have made stupid mistakes so I won’t get a great mark, but I’ll pass.

And of course I was the first to finish!

And that’s it. No more lectures. One more stats assignment due on the 16th but then it’s all about writing up the Practicum and finishing my dissertation. Everything will be totally finished in early August.

So that’s my year at uni over. No more hanging out with the other students. No more lectures. No more assignments.

Remember how nervous I was at the start? No need. All was good. Loads of support and lovely people.

Remember how I was worried about my lack of attention to detail? Yep, this is my Achilles heel. It has got in the way of presentations and assignments. But you know, I’m ok with this. I can produce lots of work in a way people can use. I don’t want to be good at technical writing.

Remember how I’m only doing a Masters to get to a PhD? Nope. Don’t want to do it any more. I think Academic writing is crazy and I see absolutely no use for that skill in my business. I am all about making things easy to understand and accessible. Journals and research seems to be the opposite. I can’t see myself spending 3-4 years doing something that is the opposite of useful for me, and something I hate, just to get Dr. in my name. Yes that would open a bunch of doors. But I’m just going to have to go about it the long way round. If a PhD opportunity presented itself, I might apply just to see. But otherwise, this is the end of my academic journey.

I’ve learnt a lot on this course, but maybe not what I was expecting to learn!

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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