I think I’ve
before that the exam-prep process has inspired in me fits of
number crunching in addition to the necessary obsessions with lists. For several
weeks, I’ve been checking off each item read, adding up the remainders,
subtracting them against the days left until. Qualifying exams, whatever
else can be said about them, encourage managed obsessiveness. It is a phase of
productively channeled bibliomania. They’re designed (at least in my
program) to get you do prepare more intensely than you’ve ever prepared for
anything else. Ever. The exam fever, however, has, for me at least, had a
side effect of hyper-numeracy. Where’s my calculator? Where’s my
spreadsheet? What day is it?

And so the story goes: I’m done reading. Sort of. Well, okay, so
that’s not quite true (never will be). There are still a couple of books I
want to revisit because I didn’t take quality notes when I read them during
coursework, but the first-pass stuff is in the pile of dusteds. I now
have twenty days to refine notes and regroup for the two major exam questions
I’ll write in early December. Because the minor exams each allow me a week
with the question and all notes (the first will then be written on-site in a
three hour session; the other is a week-long take home), I can prepare for them
differently. Tomorrow, then, begins the last leg of preparations,
beginning with how best to funnel more than 290 pages of notes kept
here and
into "a few pages." Nice thing about the blog is it was easy for me to
look up the
factoid about a seven-point font giving me the equivalent of sixteen pages of
notes on just three 8.5"x11" pages.


  1. I was going to caution you that itty bitty font stretching across 8.5″ is nearly useless, and that my trick was to switch the page orientation (to landscape–or whatever it’s called) and hack it in half so that my notes were much more “legible”.

    I see, though, that you managed a similar solution for your exam for Louise.

    You could probably squeeze your margins a bit closer, though. There’s a lot of white space b/n your columns. 😉

  2. Yeah, I just used columns to keep stuff findable, too (and ended up with an eval that went something like “this answer was unexpected; it’s not clear that this wouldn’t pass”). Still, the air-tight exam-room purifications mean that I’m without my handiest and most apt means of finding stuff. Deny the writing tools, deny the writing, I say (sheepishly, knowing full well my kommittee members might discover this). 😉 Kidding!

    I’ll try to fine tune the layout and get things in ship shape for the questions I aim to write. I’m feeling a little bit out of practice though, and much of the reading is swirling loosely in a haze of maybe-ideas (do I remember?), so I still have work to do.

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