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Written qualifying exam woes.


DNAgyrase
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Did anyone have to take a written qualifing exam? My written quals are coming up soon (bioloigal sciences), and have been studying for a while now. Intensely for the past month or so. It's over all the course work from the first year ( A LOT of information), and now with just under two weeks left, I feel there's just no way I can pass. Actually remember all this information, in addition we also get to read some scienfific papers and answer questions on that. Anyone been in this situation before??

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I had to take written quals.  Our quals were one of those where everyone overstressed and overstudied and the actual exam wasn't that bad.

 

Can you talk to your advisor?  YOu may be panicking from stress, but unnecessarily.

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Did anyone have to take a written qualifing exam? My written quals are coming up soon (bioloigal sciences), and have been studying for a while now. Intensely for the past month or so. It's over all the course work from the first year ( A LOT of information), and now with just under two weeks left, I feel there's just no way I can pass. Actually remember all this information, in addition we also get to read some scienfific papers and answer questions on that. Anyone been in this situation before??

 

Don't freak out.

 

I had to take three written exams. Like many, I felt overwhelmed and had growing doubts that I would pass. A saving thought that might work for you was the realization that one is never really ready for quals. One just prepares the best one can and then does one's best on the exam and goes from there.

 

I had to take written quals.  Our quals were one of those where everyone overstressed and overstudied and the actual exam wasn't that bad.

 

Can you talk to your advisor?  YOu may be panicking from stress, but unnecessarily.

 

This is good guidance from JM.

 

However, I'd add the following. Before talking to your advisor, do two things. First, candidly assess your relationship with that person. Is she/he close enough to you that you can have a frank conversation about your concerns or will she/he take such a disclosure on your part in ways you might not like? (IME, qualifying exams were a form of initiation, even a hazing. Professors taunted those of us who were taking exams by telling stories of how hard things were when they took their quals. ("I had to walk fifteen miles in the snow, up hill both ways, during the hottest summer on record, and I couldn't even begin writing until I milled my own paper.") If the answer to the question is "yes," then by all means have a conversation.

 

If you cannot have a true heart-to-heart with your advisor, consider the utility of having a conversation about the materials you're studying. The topics of this alternate conversation could walk a scale of complexity so that you demonstrate what you know cold, give a hint of some things on which you're not exactly sure, and, perhaps, an even vaguer indication of materials that have you stymied. Your advisor might (read: should) see what you're doing and, given the level of rapport, give you good information in return. ("Don't worry about that." "You need to brush up on that a bit." "You got that nailed cold.")

 

As the day of your exams approaches, give serious thought for picking a cut off time beyond which you will not study and instead focus on collecting your thoughts and calming your nerves. If you like to laugh, watch/listen to some comedy. Relax, as hard as that may be to do. If you need to turn off your phone and hang a 'gone fishin'' sign on Facebook and Twitter, go ahead and do so.

 

HTH.

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Thanks for this advice. Trying to remain clam, but as the time approaches, the thought of not passing and actaully failing has been linerging in my mind, and I just can't seem to let it go. Really hopes things turn out okay!! Thanks again

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It always amuses me to hear about other people's advisor stories and how different they all are.  My advisor spent most of my time pre-quals telling me how easy they were and trying to get me to calm down and stop worrying.

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