The Sunbaked King

I Don’t Know How To Study

(I’ve watched four movies during the last two weeks– High School Musical 3, Pineapple Express, The House Bunny, and Madagascar 2– but I guess the movie reviews have to wait. It’s rare that I pass up the opportunity to do a review, since they are FUN, but pressing emotions and realizations have come to the forefront. Like this one.)

I don’t know how to study.

I first had a glimpse of this startling realization during my exam last June. The topics I had to learn for that season were fiendishly varied: law, risk management | solvency, underwriting | biology, and the pre-need industry. Individually, the topics were fine, but merged together? My mind collapsed. I failed. I chalked my failure to the fact that I didn’t know how to segregate the concepts in my brain. It was a valid reason that time.

I didn’t realize that the problem went a lot deeper than that.

Our study habits are dictated by the way we expect our exams to be. A simple multiple-choice exam that tests basic concepts only requires familiarity with the text. An in-depth comprehension is not necessary, unless of course you want to ace the exam. An essay that tests the interrelation between individual topics, on the other hand, requires a deeper understanding of those topics. In other words, we mold our study habits in such a way that we only expend energy and time proportional to the requirement of the exam.

Now, as a math major who’s been taking computational exams for God knows how long, my study method is as follows: I take a formula, keep it in my head, and practice solving with it again and again until I have sufficiently understood its nuances. I actually don’t need to memorize the formula as long as I’ve practiced with it long enough and well enough. My arm suddenly has the ability to “remember” how it’s done.

This is where the problem lies. My exams are not computational in nature anymore, and neither are they in a format I like best: multiple-choice. I have to answer 20 to 25 essay questions in 6 hours– 3 in the morning and 3 in the afternoon– and I have to provide detailed elaborations to those questions. I cannot study for these exams in the way I do for multiple-choice tests; just familiarizing myself with the concepts is not going to work this time. I cannot study for these exams in the way I do for philosophical essays; taking one idea and running with my own analysis is going to get me nowhere. More important, I cannot study for these exams in the way I do for computational tests; I have lost arm muscle memory, and there’s no practicing for these.

Suddenly, I’m faced with a need for comprehension and detail. Which means in-depth memorization. Which means unfamiliar territory.  Which means I’m lost. Again.

With one month to go, it’s a nightmare.

I need help.

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Filed under: Geekery, Ra

2 Responses

  1. makmak says:

    Yes, you do. You’re just panicking. 😛
    And may istorbo lang. Haha.

  2. kerwinray says:

    Haha. Di naman istorbo. My fault, really. I should have learned how to memorize eons ago. Never really got to using that part of the brain e. 😛

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