Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Seven Six Five

Just one month--thirty days--now until I sit for qualifying exams. Krista explained her program's exam procedures in an entry today, and I was reminded I'm due for a report on exam-prep progress. Every tiny exam self-report adds pep to my rally.

I've met or corresponded by email with all of the members of my exam committee, and I have just one more meeting sometime next week to bat around answerable questions for one of my minor exams now that I've dusted through the reading on that list. All in all, I've had a reasonably solid stretch of reading. Just five articles and six books (North, Aarseth, Haas, Kittler, Elkins, and Mitchell) wait for first passes. It's been impossible to work through a full monograph on teaching days, so I've been doing my best to line up articles for Mondays and Wednesdays. Should be able to get through two articles tomorrow and the rest of the first-pass reading by the end of next week. After that, I have a short list of books that I've read but for which I have few notes aside from marginalia. This means that the last two weeks of November will require lots of notes-focusing and writing in small bursts, assembling and winding through clusters of ideas most relevant to the exam areas.

I should be able to sit the two major exam questions (each for three hours) on the day after my last day of teaching for the fall semester. After that, I'll take six days with a minor exam question before sitting for another three-hour session one week after the major exams. After that, I'll get a question for the a week-long minor exam to be written at home. So that's the pattern: two three-hour questions written on-site for the major exam, one three-hour question written on-site after prepping with it for a week, and one full-week question written at home with full access to books and notes. After that, well, it'll be December 21, and I'll take a couple of days off, go bowling with the family, watch the snowflakes, anything. Because of the holidays, I'll probably learn of pass/fail by late January or early February at which time we'll convene for an oral exam where I get to apply duct tape to the flimsy places in my written answers.

Bookmark and Share Posted by at November 7, 2006 11:15 PM to Qualifying Exams

I admire your vision and dedication. To those of us that are watching, you make it seem almost easy.

Good luck if I don't see you in the halls, but I think I will.

Posted by: Tamika at November 8, 2006 12:22 AM

Vision and dedication, eh? Maybe I can get a photo of me looking especially dogged on one of those Inspirationals posters. ;)

Seriously, though, it is possible to be ready by December of third year (though not especially easy, if by "easy" we're talking about lying around on the couch watching People's Court and Judge Mathis, like I occasionally do). For folks who want to get them done by December (definitely it takes a summer and a semester), I have a few recommendations I'd be happy to share at some point, maybe between semesters. You already know quite a lot about my process with exams, but the hindsight clarity is forever expanding.

And I'll be at colloquium this afternoon. See you then.

Posted by: Derek at November 8, 2006 8:36 AM

Hey, could you write something about how your areas work (in your copious spare time)? Or maybe you've already done that? It seems like you guys have quite a bit more lee-way in choosing the divisions of your examinations.

Posted by: Krista at November 8, 2006 4:48 PM

I'll do what I can to explain it in an upcoming entry. If there's going to be one per day until the end of Nov., I should be able to get to it.

Posted by: Derek at November 9, 2006 9:58 PM