Thursday, June 6, 2013

An update on the last 24 hours

Aside: I had the weirdest dream last night. I dreamt that someone from uni got cut to pieces by her parents and then they did it to themselves. Somehow, my friend came back to life. It was so weird.

In order to make up for the past 3 months of absence, I have decided to make my re-entrance during the most impractical time within the academic year. My level of care ain't happening right now, let me tell you.

But before I start, I'd just like to say that my 4mL sample of Tom Ford Champaca Absolute arrived this morning and I can smell it from here. It's so delicious and I'm so tempted to start spraying myself, but I'm refraining and using it as a reward instead.

I know this post is a little overdue, but I'm guessing it's before exams for most people. Oh well. Point taken. A common question I get asked is how to focus study. Basically, how do I revise the main points while making sure I cover everything?

I like to divide my learning up into two phases: concepts and detail.

Look at your learning objectives. You'll be given an overview of things you have to cover, and those are probably the bare basics that you'll be looking into for each week. Make sure you can answer all of those objectives because the bulk of the exam will be based on them. There's no point in trying to go into insane amounts of detail if you don't have to. I mean sure it's interesting and it might be something to come back to, but you probably can't afford to spend so much of your efforts/brain capacity trying to shove a new bit of information that isn't that relevant (to your exams).

The learning objectives are keys because most questions will stem from them. If you have tutes, look at those too. This isn't for university exclusively - high school has learning objectives and in fact, they're probably a lot more structured than those given to you post-high school. Ugh. I want to be back in high school, where pretty much everything is done. Sure you get freedom, but at the same time, you're subjected to about 10 times the amount of content. Literally I learn an entire term's content (equivalent at a high school level) in 2 weeks. Sometimes even less. It always acts as a constant reminder of how much more I could have done in high school.

ANYWAY, that's totally besides the point.

In terms of answering the learning objectives, what you want to do is skim over them briefly and just try to form a very brief mental answer, to give yourself an idea of whether you know at least something about what it's asking. Interpret the question. Then you can focus your learning while you look over your notes. You might come across something and say to yourself, "Oh yeah, I remember seeing that in the learning objectives". Big light bulb. Have the learning objectives next to you. Mine are always at the top of my notes, so I just take a photo on my phone to keep them in sight. It saves having to scroll up to the top of the document every time I finish answering an objective.

It's also always really helpful to know what you covered in each week of every subject. That way, you can pinpoint the major concepts behind each week. And there will always be a major concept or idea. Drill those principles into yourself, and then you've laid the foundations needed to build upon it. If you get the major principle, then you can build your detail on that because you actually understand the bare fundamentals going on in that week. Just pinpoint the major concepts underlying in each week. It's usually outlined in the learning objectives anyway. I mean, even in a subject as seemingly non-conceptual as musculoskeletal anatomy, there are still major concepts in there. Like.. muscle is attached to bone. If you pull on muscles, bones will move and it depends on the placement of the muscle as to HOW the bone moves. That's that major principle in almost every week of what I learnt. If you take those bare basics away, then it makes learning a lot more relevant and understandable.

You always want to be reading over your notes. Now that you've looked over the objectives, see what else you've been taught that could be tested. This is the key behind doing well in multiple choice. Because it requires (mostly) no thinking (except if you have bulk calculations to do.. eugh..) and if you see an answer that you recall seeing in your notes, then it's most probably right. This is where you don't really need to dedicate it to memory, but seeing it will stimulate your memory enough. It's amazing what memory recall can do.

Then you want to consolidate. Having done all this work, you're obviously going to have strengths and weaknesses. Write down your weaknesses and just revise the content again. There's no harm in having done more study than less during this week because it's going to be over with in a week or two anyway. You might as well give it 100%, rather than 40% and then regret. For the most part, you get 1 or 2 chances to pass the subject. That's it. Try hard now and then you don't have to worry about it.

If it helps, try making yourself concept maps. Like, if you get one thing, it'll lead to another, and another and another and another and eventually things make sense because it flows. That's mostly how I remember things. I try to group things into logical events.

Hope this helps!

Again, good luck everyone. :)

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