I know that every comprehensive examination at the doctoral level is different, so this blog post is from the perspective of my personal experience. Take what you need from it (tips that will be helpful for you) and feel free to leave the rest right here on my blog 🙂
I recently wrote a little about my experience with our doctoral comprehensive exam. Although my method of studying was not the same as some of my cohort members, I found quite a few things helpful as I prepared for this big exam. I want to share some of those tips with you, just in case you are preparing for a comprehensive exam or another big exam.
- Trust yourself: It’s really easy to get distracted by negative thinking. Remember that you have made it this far! Trust yourself and your abilities.
- Have a plan: I began with making an outline for each weekend. In this outline, I identified the topics I wanted to cover and any practice questions I wanted to review. I tried to stick to my schedule because putting things off meant that the next weekend had more topics to cover.
- Set boundaries: You can decide what these boundaries will be. For me, I set a boundary with myself where social media was concerned. I deactivated my social media sites and honestly, after a while, I realized I didn’t care for it much which was good. I also set a boundary in terms of my wellness. I made time to exercise, drink water, and get enough rest. I tried to take the best care of myself in the months leading up to my exam (although it’s crazy that I was sick the actual day of the exam!). I also set boundaries around my studying time, meaning that I tried not to break my schedule for random things because consistency is very important to me.
- Reach out to others: I had family members and friends that I reached out to when I felt discouraged or anxious. I knew that I was not taking this journey alone because I had others supporting me. If you don’t think that you have family or friends you can reach out to, maybe consider asking a professor or a classmate if they would help support you during your exam preparation.
- Ground yourself: Whatever works for you here, do it. Whether it is yoga, church, prayer, mindfulness, meditation, walking, the gym, eating chocolate. Just do it! Life is about balance, so as much as you are studying and preparing for your exam, you also need to live! This might be a good time to explore some things you enjoy
If you have an exam coming up soon, I wish you all the best!
“To be better equipped for the tests that the year will bring — read a textbook. To prepare for the tests that life will bring — read a book.”
― Mokokoma Mokhonoana