Tuesday 24 September 2013

Progress... of a sort

Having made a decision on 'next course choice' a while back, I thought that today was the time to finally bite the bullet and get it happening for real.

So the automated button is pushed, and registration for M364 has begun.  Monumental in a way - once I have studied (and of course passed) that course, only the mandatory Level 1 will stand in my way before I can graduate.  At which point I COULD choose to walk away with a basic degree and my head held high.  I probably wouldn't do it, just for pride's (and career potential's) sake.  But I think just knowing that I could will make the rest of the journey a little easier.

Probably won't get back to the blog before the exam now, unless severely bad procrastination sets in.

(I hasten to add that my study time was over for the night before I started writing these posts. Roni - student guilt even over blogging, dammit!!)

So here's to coming out the other side (relatively) unscathed.   And to the prospect of some well earned winter downtime.

When the basket fights back..more PMA please?

Feeling a little out of sorts with it all at the minute.

I can't seem to summon up the enthusiasm and drive that I need for the amount of revision that I think I still need to cram into the 12 days that are left till the exam.  Eeek - T-12 and counting.

Worse still, I'm not even using the washing basket as a procrastination tool - the darn thing is overflowing due to wet but warm weather that doesn't allow sufficient use of the central heating to allow indoor drying at pace, but neither does it allow the summer luxury of hanging it all outside to dry.  Add to that a child back at school and wearing uniform faster than I can wash it, an interesting new job to take up my brain cells, and yes, a still-ongoing obsession with quilts which makes patchwork the ONLY thing I actually want to do.  And all that makes for one frustrated washer-lady/student.

(Cos I am getting to do none of the stuff I want to do, little of the housework stuff I need to do, and not enough hours in the day left to cram everything I need to know into my over-stuffed head).

I'm experimenting with different forms of revision in addition to my usual stuff - with mixed results.  I was liking the idea of mind mapping, getting the important parts of a unit down on a page.  Till I realised that I was limited in the amount of maps I could create with the free software package I had chosen, and unwilling to pay for the subscriber option, I took the huff and decided to try another tack.

Thankfully a helpful OU colleague created a set of flashcards in a software package called Brainscape (www.brainscape.com).  This has given me a new place to test the basics of my learning and hopefully keep in mind that "All I need to pass is 40%".

Here's hoping that will keep the panic to a minimum.

Sunday 1 September 2013

A different ball game...aka the art of revision

A load of balls??

Well, the final TMA is done, the results are back, and it's definitely time to progress to the next stage - revision!

The question of revision is a difficult one - when to start, how much is enough, how to do it, when to do it?

Now some organised folks will start their revision right along with their normal learning.  Others the very second the last TMA is submitted.  Not saying that any of that is the wrong way to do things.  But for me, it would not be close enough to the exam to retain sufficient information.  So I have devised a system, over the last couple of courses, that appears to have worked reasonably for me so far.

Following the last TMA of a course, I know immediately that the last thing I wish to do is go anywhere near a computer.  And for once in my study life, I indulge that without student guilt setting in.  I allow myself a good 2 weeks break between the end of the TMA and the start of exam revision.  This usually also allows for TMA results to come back, which cements in my head any weak areas that I can arrange to spend extra time on.

And then I plan the day that I will start.  But Day 1 of revision simply involves making a revision plan.  (see I know that I will be in procrastination mood, having had time off, so I don't expect anything more taxing of myself than the promise of a plan of what and when and how).

The revision plan itself involves working out everything else that will stop me from studying, and figuring out a way to get some learning into my head despite all that.  So for example, if I know I will be out at meetings on a night, then I plan to read a certain unit on the bus to work, or in my lunch break, or even in the afore-mentioned bath.  On the simple grounds that 'anything is better than nothing' when it comes to revision.

I will also download precisely two old past papers as well as the specimen exam for my course.  Why two?  That number simply allows me to look for trends of a kind, but between the 3 papers there is just enough not to send me over the edge into exam-panic, which can be counter-productive (literally), as I get nothing done once I feel like that (except for the washing and ironing!!).  These I will work on in small doses throughout the revision period, and on one final day close to the exam under simulated exam timings.

I also plan to take time off from revision, with at least two nights in a week where no study at all is required (although I still feel the guilt pangs at these times).

How much is enough?  Finally as the day itself dawns, I print out as much as I can to cover my weak spots, and read them on the train to the exam centre.  I've tried more general flashcards and broader revision at this time, but that just sends the brain into panic mode too.  So enough is enough.

Throughout the process I remind myself of two things:
(1)  This is still voluntary!!
(2)  All I need to pass is 40%.  Anything else is a bonus.

The knotty problems of revision

Touch wood, these strategies have worked so far.  So onward and upward, stop procrastinating at once and start making that revision plan!

Stunned and amazed - again!!

The magic wand....there must be one...!!

OK - dunno how it happened - but 89% again!!  Oh, and of the 'missing 11' - at least 4 were for a silly silly mistake where I ought to have read and re-read the question - argh!!

But realistically I can't cry over only losing 11 marks, so I will celebrate the other 89 quite happily.