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I'm taking comps on Monday and had to post here...I can't believe that 4 years ago I was researching grad programs while trawling through GradCafe, and now I'm about to be ABD *fingers crossed*

Thanks for all the support! This is the best community ever.

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Reupping this thread because I'm in need of some assurance that it's OK to only read book reviews for some of your comps/generals books, right??? Feeling a little underwater.

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3 hours ago, HardyBoy said:

Reupping this thread because I'm in need of some assurance that it's OK to only read book reviews for some of your comps/generals books, right??? Feeling a little underwater.

It is literally impossible to pass them otherwise.

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On 3/3/2021 at 5:38 PM, HardyBoy said:

Reupping this thread because I'm in need of some assurance that it's OK to only read book reviews for some of your comps/generals books, right??? Feeling a little underwater.

It didn't work in my case. :( My examiners were pretty fast to poke holes in my "knowledge" during our meetings. So I had to go back and... well, actually get the books and "gut" them.

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53 minutes ago, TMP said:

It didn't work in my case. :( My examiners were pretty fast to poke holes in my "knowledge" during our meetings. So I had to go back and... well, actually get the books and "gut" them.

Thanks for responding! I've been trying to mostly gut -- or at least read the intro, TOC, and book reviews. I've just hit a rough patch and trying to get through. On the plus side, my prep meeting schedule is such that I'll have a few weeks before the exams to go back and refresh. I hope it'll be enough. Such a weird/stressful process.

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On 3/5/2021 at 3:29 PM, HardyBoy said:

Thanks for responding! I've been trying to mostly gut -- or at least read the intro, TOC, and book reviews. I've just hit a rough patch and trying to get through. On the plus side, my prep meeting schedule is such that I'll have a few weeks before the exams to go back and refresh. I hope it'll be enough. Such a weird/stressful process.

You're going to get through this! Try to read the intro and conclusion of each book before turning to reviews. The important thing is understanding how the books work together. How do the arguments intersect? How do they challenge each other? Something that worked really well for me was writing a precis for each section of my comps lists. So, for example, one precis would be on the historiography of WWI based on whatever 4-5 books were on my list, and another precis would be on gender in colonial America, etc. It was useful to have a sheet of paper focused on historiography from which to study, especially as I got closer to exam day.

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On 3/3/2021 at 2:38 PM, HardyBoy said:

Reupping this thread because I'm in need of some assurance that it's OK to only read book reviews for some of your comps/generals books, right??? Feeling a little underwater.

If you use this tactic, it is crucial for you to understand which works your examiners feel fall into the category of essential / must read / "ignore at one's peril." And even then, @ashiepoo72's guidance is great.

Keep in mind that quals are not just for your professional development, they are also a ritual designed to make you suffer. Do what you can to focus on the former and to compartmentalize the latter.

If you've not done so already, try to talk to ABD's who have taken their exams with members of your committee. They can offer great insights. Also, if members of your committee have copies of previous exams for their undergraduate courses on file at a library, give some thought to giving them a look.

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