Cramming Techniques?

by Derek Smith

Qualifying exams (a.k.a. area exams) are now just two weeks away and I’m finding that each day brings a new wave of emotions. Some days I feel confident, others I am at a complete loss. I have maintained a fairly consistent study schedule over the past two months (though there is always the sense that more could have been done). With only a few days remaining, I’d like to maximize my study time. Any last minute cram techniques or other tips you’d like to share?

The exams cover one subject area each. Looking at old tests, there is a standard catalog of proofs to memorize and computational techniques. I have spent my time until now in a comprehensive review of topics as well as problem solving. I intend to refresh the things I’ve already covered as well as focus these few days on proof memorization. I will also attempt problems, but I feel the only real approach there is to simply solve as many as possible. With memorizing, I tend to do well by writing and re-writing the material until it becomes second nature. I have used electronic flash cards to help with this endeavor, but it’s to the point where there’s not enough time to enter new information.

Any other suggestions or words of encouragement will be greatly appreciated by myself and the rest readers going through this process!

About Derek Smith

Former weather dude and scientific software developer. In the upcoming 2015-16 year I will complete my PhD at UCSB in nonlinear dispersive equations. I enjoy spending time with my two young daughters and running.
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