Tips for Studying for the Comprehensive Exam
- The best way to prepare is to get your Comprehensive exam question midway through the semester. Then, start amassing class notes and readings to answer your question. When the class has finished, write a detailed outline of your answer to the question. This way, when it comes time for the Comprehensive exam, all of your answers are finished and you only have to study them. As burdensome as this seems at the end of a long semester, this really is the best way to go! Push yourself to think that this is just part of the class, and you will save yourself from unneeded stress before the Comps.
- If you haven't done the above (and don't worry, many of us haven't), then make sure to give yourself adequate time to study for the exam. This time will vary depending on your responsibilities (school, work, family, etc.), so just take a realistic look at your schedule and figure out how much time you can devote to studying. If you have a pretty clear schedule, you could devote one month to getting your answers down, and then the second to studying the answers. If you are working or have more responsibilities, you may want to give yourself more time.
- Once you've figured out how much time you'll need to study, make a schedule. Put in deadlines of when you'd like to get each question answered. Make it specific and stick to it! If you just put "Study for Comps" you may not be as motivated as if you put that you need to finish your "Historical Foundations" answer by a certain date.
- Research your answers and then write them in a detailed outline. This will force you to really organize your answer, which will in turn make it easier to study.
- Now that all of your answers are down, you need to learn them well enough to be able to write them out on the exam. Repetition is key! Go over your answers again and again so that you really know and understand the content.
- You could also think about writing a more simplified outline onto flashcards.
- If you are an audio learner, you could also record yourself reading your answer and then burn the recording to a CD. This way you could listen to your answer on your way to work, while you exercise, or while you read your outlines. If you are listening and viewing, you are learning two ways-and the more the better! By being able to listen as well as read, this also helps you to focus on what you are doing.
- Practice teaching your answers to someone else, this will help cement them in your mind.
- For the parts that you need to memorize (outlines, citations, years), you might want to check out:
The Memory Book: The Classic Guide to Improving Your Memory at Work, at School, and at Play by Harry Lorayne & Jerry Lucas. This book gives you memorization techniques that really work!
At the Exam
- Get adequate sleep in the week leading up to the exam, especially the couple days before.
- The morning of the exam, eat a normal breakfast. Now would not be the time to try anything new in case it might upset your stomach.
- Bring extra pens and a bottle of water.
- You have 1 hour and 15 minutes for each question, so plan your time. Bring a small clock that you can set up next to you so you are always aware of how much time you have. Many spend 10-15 minutes jotting down the outline on the bluebook(on the back cover), and then take the last hour to write out the answer.
- Bring a lunch. You don't want to have to worry about getting lunch in the middle of this exam. Pack neutral food that you know won't upset your stomach. Eat a reasonable amount to tide you over, but don't eat too much or you'll get sleepy!
- Most importantly, remember that God called you to Franciscan University to seek a better understanding of your faith. The whole point of this Masters is to be in deeper communion with Jesus Christ, so keep up your prayer life. When you begin to feel overwhelmed, go to God in prayer and give all of your worry and anxiety to Him. Do not let negative feelings get the better of you--fight against them and trust in Him who gives you each breath. God wants you to succeed so that His kingdom can be furthered here on earth, so do your part and trust!
- Ask for others to pray for you, especially the Saints!
O Great St. Joseph of Cupertino
who while on earth did obtain from God the grace
to be asked at your examination only the questions you knew,
obtain for me a like favor in the examinations
for which I am now preparing.
In return I promise to make you known
and cause you to be invoked.
Through Christ our Lord.
St. Joseph of Cupertino, Pray for us.