Studying for Comps | Post 38

Written by Rachael Kroot for GradSchools.com

Remember when I first started out at Mississippi State? And I debated doing a thesis? But I decided not to?

Well, that decision has finally come back to bite me. It's time to cram in some serious studying for my comprehensive exams.

I'm sure comprehensive exams are different everywhere you go, but at MSU they consist of 6 hours of written exams, followed by about an hour and a half of oral exams. This isn't all in one day, mind you; it's spread over three days---three of the most nerve-wrecking days of your student career.

Since I am apparently a huge worrier, I started studying two and a half weeks in advance. In fact, I started studying on a Friday night while all of my other classmates went out to the bar. My roommate ran into them and they all said, "Where's Rachael?" and he said, "She's studying," and they said, "Already?"

But I didn't think two weeks was enough. I originally wanted to give myself a solid month. What can I say, time got away from me. You know how it is.

Since I started studying later than I wanted to, I tried to get myself as organized as possible. For me, that does NOT mean creating a schedule. I never stick to schedules. If I did make one, I would probably just get behind and stressed out and start skipping important things to stay on task. Either that, or I would completely give up.

For me getting organized meant making a good list of everything I wanted to study and then ordering it in terms of importance. I basically went through all of my classes mentally and made a list of the material from that class I might find useful (notes, exams, powerpoints, textbooks, etc). I take good notes, so I always start there. Some professors let us keep our exams, so that is always a good follow up. Then I looked at my books for Weather Analysis and Satellite and Radar (SatRad), which happen to be written by the same guy and are two of the only books I actually found practical.

One of the hardest things to do was prioritize. I could have studied my notes chronogically; I could have studied them based on difficulty; or, I could have studied them based on which professors were on my committee (the committee asks a majority of your questions and decides whether or not you pass)!

Professors on my committee taught Research Methods, SatRad, Mesoscale Meteorology, Atmospheric Thermodynamics and Atmospheric Kinematics. Sounds fun, doesn't it?! I bet you would have trouble deciding where to start too.

In the end I decided to start with my Synoptic notes. I know it isn't on the list I just gave, but Synoptic was my first real weather class. It relates to just about everything else, so I thought a solid review would be a good place to start.

I'll let you know how it goes from here!

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About the Author: Rachael has a B.S. in Geography from the University of Maryland and is currently attending graduate school for broadcast meteorology.

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