Other Reflections of a Madman
I have to admit I did not clue into on many of these secrets until after I got through university. Like many, I was practically railroaded through the system like cattle on a train headed for the slaughter house. Your parents are concerned for your well being, so there is always the pressure to perform well in school, to perpetually move on, to increase your options, and eventually join the rat race of hard working, never satisfied consumers
consumption is killing the planet). Yet somehow in all this, there almost seems no time to slow down and think about what the heck we our doing with our life. So before we start talking about how to get through university, you should sit down and seriously reflect on whether this plan is the right one for you
choice and university studies).
Assuming you’ve decided this is what you really want to do, the next step is to develop a strategy how to best accomplish it.
I guess I’m fortunate to be endowed with enough intelligence to have gotten through the system by the simple approach that I took, and the amount of time that I invested into it. Simple, honest and diligent work can be good, but you should consider that your university career is essentially preparing you for the rat race. And where there’s a race, the faster ones get the bigger prize. And to get ahead of the others, you can always employ various tricks to claw your way forward.
For me, I knew that the only reason I wanted to get through university was for that piece of paper and nothing more. It was for my own confidence, and I always knew that eventually I would want to run my own business. The paper was a means to launch myself out of the blue collar mire < and into the white collar world, from where I assumed it would be easier to launch myself into some independent existence. In hindsight though, I may have found a more efficient route to accomplish this, because the piece of paper is certainly not cheap, and it requires a significant investment of time. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed my university years (I purposefully chose one with the greatest party reputation) and, because I was taking this minimalist approach (I was shooting for and exactly attained the percentage score I needed to get that piece of paper - and not one percentage point more), it opened up all sorts of time to develop myself in other areas (I was on the university gymnastics team, rowing team, school photographer with access to free film and the dark room, drama class - and all sorts of fun).
Actually, while you are going through this institution, you can look at it as a good opportunity to develop yourself in many other areas you might not have thought of. These opportunities will simply not be available to you once you are in the “outside world”, where your boss will work you to death, you may have other mouths to feed, mortgage payments to meet, and where there is simply so much less time for leisure and self development. Not to mention that such resources could be significantly sparse. In university there are endless clubs you can join, sports you can take part in, and everything is centralised and on campus, so you should consider all these options to make the whole exercise and investment worthwhile. Any committees or organisations you partake in will give you valued experience and skills, even networking benefits once out of school, all of which you can apply once you graduate. Not to mention that such participation will always look good on your resume. The people who hire you often like to see that you have initiative, many skills, and that their investment will yield them their desired returns. Not to mention that these skills may bring you pleasure or serve your own development. Certainly not everything should revolve around serving your future employer. It is your life, after all, and we should assume that you have chosen to enter university for your own needs and not those of others. This is a mistake many might make (back to previous "career choice" link).
So enjoy yourself, develop yourself in areas that interest you, take advantage of the multitude of opportunities you have before you, and now lets focus on the education part.
The fact of the matter is that, the more efficient you are at attaining your diploma requirements, the more time you will have to develop yourself in other areas. Or simply to enjoy yourself. After all, the entire purpose of you being there is so that you can better enjoy your life, no? So why not start learning that now? Don’t let yourself get railroaded into some demanding work schedule and never give yourself the time or chance to enjoy your life fully.
But before we start to talk about “attaining your diploma requirements”, you should know what those are. I had a housemate in university who would be chained to his desk constantly. When he had enough of that, he’d migrate to the living room and watch some TV as a break. He would tell me that his average was something like 96%, that he was eligible for some scholarships, and then he once told me he would like to become a police officer. This when he was watching on TV how the police were beating protestors. Perhaps he assumed they were all lazy and good-for-nothing lefties who should only be beaten.
My other housemate also studied nonstop and asked me what the heck I was doing in university, since I seemed to spend so little time at my desk. But I have to ask you, what did the 96% serve him if he wanted to become a cop? It seemed like a ridiculous waste of time. I needed a 70% average to get my diploma and I achieved 71%. Seemed righteously perfect to me. If you want to move on to further studies you should find out what the requirements are. If you later want to enter the workforce you should find out what they are looking for. For the field you want to get into, perhaps they are not so interested in percentages but more interested in certain extracurricular activities. You should find out all this so that you can develop a good strategy for yourself. Four (or more) years can go by pretty quickly, so do not lose out on all the opportunities. I knew one girl who attained one degree, then hum and hawed and said she’d like to try something else. Professional students we’d call them. Fortunately her parents foot the bill, but it seemed more like a professional waste of time to me.
Anyway, before you start getting yourself obsessed with figures and percentages, you should know exactly what those percentages should be. If you come from a poor family and you need a scholarship, which would require a certain percentage and certain requirements, you can use that as your goal. If after a month it becomes apparent that you do not have the abilities to attain that goal, either find a way to accomplish it, or readjust your goals to something realisable. Don’t just bury your nose in your books and blindly shoot for the highest percentage possible, without knowing why or anything beyond this single two digit figure.
Now that you have researched all your options and requirements, we can start focusing on how to achieve that percentage in the most efficient manner. Because the more efficiently you attain your goals, the more time you will have to develop yourself in other areas, or to simply enjoy yourself. Because the point of university is to prepare you for your working life. And the point of working is to get something out of life, so you can enjoy it. My parents are hard working Czechs and they seemed to follow the principle that one must work very hard, first and foremost, and then worry about enjoying their life. When I once asked them why they worked, suggesting that it was for the purpose of capitalising on the yields generated from that work and to get something out of life, their response was: “Yes, we’ve heard about your theories before”. It seemed mind boggling to me that the enjoyment of their work and life didn’t even seem to be in their equation; that the primary purpose was to work, work, work, and then somehow the enjoyment would come.
Unfortunately, having clued into these university secrets late in the game and not having applied many of them, I cannot consider myself a verifiable expert. But I have heard of a few, dabbled in some others, so at least I can point you in certain directions and suggest to you some tricks. But more importantly, hopefully inspire you enough to reflect on this issue in order to develop an overall and effective strategy. Not to just blindly enter school, bury your nose diligently into your books, and see what becomes of you. [Side note: many times we joked how many girls went to university not to get their BSc, or MHD < , or PHD, but rather their MRS, meaning to get married and find some hardworking young man to take care of all that nonsense for them. At one point we received a letter in our four male household which was written by a mother for her daughter and which was obviously sent to the wrong address. The letter contained a newspaper article written by a prostitute explaining how to give the best and sweetest blow job. We read it with utter fascination and marvelled at the precise and detailed level of professionalism. If this is your primary goal in university, I am sorry to say that I cannot offer you much helpful advice. (But I might be a willing subject for practising purposes.)]
Once you have developed for yourself a sound strategy, I am sure you can find many tricks and resources on the internet, or books in school, or from speakers who pass through the campus and suggest their ideas. I never took advantage of any of these. Then again, I’m Bohemian in nature and tend to fly by the seat of my pants in anything that I do.
One interesting concept which intrigued me and which I never took advantage of was to study the previous tests written by my teachers. This way you can give yourself practice tests and see what type of questions your teacher might ask you. Study tests given over several years and see how the questions change from year to year. This will give you an idea of which areas you should focus on more, instead of like me, who studied everything equally and honestly.
Speaking of teachers, maybe yours is not a good one, or you don’t get along, or you just do not understand well the way they explain things, whereby another option is to consider changing teachers. I never tried this as well but simply accepted my fate and believed it was up to simple and honest hard work to overcome all obstacles.
But in the real world, once you are outside, those that progress faster do not necessarily do so by simple and honest work. I once asked a boss of mine why others seemed to get promotions while I did not, to which he responded: “Well, the squeaky wheels get more oil.” At which point I would just squeak and squeak until I eventually quit, out of protest. But this is just to show you that there are many ways you can skin a cat, and that you should constantly seek them out, if you want to get ahead of the others. Or attain your goals with less effort. So ask around. Ask older students. I never asked, but I do admit I did apply one little trick and secret during my last year of university. It was for my most difficult course. Something about rational economics. The teacher was Pakistani and I could barely understand him through his thick accent. In hindsight I should have dropped that course, as it was obviously retarded. Frankly, my final thesis on economics was that the entire subject was retarded. The concept that we can create and apply mathematical formulas to the way people behave, and try to apply them to create the most efficient society. Certainly I know that economics cannot be entirely retarded and there must be some point to it. Perhaps I missed this point entirely (but I do now see how the world economy works in general and one day I’d like to dabble in the stock market). In any case, this one course on rational economics took the cake. I passed that course and still have no clue what it was about. Something about rationalising variables in an equation. While we are trying to make up mathematical formulas which supposedly explain and predict how people will behave, we can mathematically rationalise about each of the variables we are considering applying to our equation. Yes, precisely this.
After staring blankly into my book for a few weeks and trying to get a grip on what the heck he was talking about, a fellow student casually mentioned that the students of that class were meeting once or twice a week to help each other out, and he asked me if I would like to join them. I thought this could be a good idea. I showed up the first day at their designated meeting point: in some conference room in the university. These apparently exist for the students and I was amazed. Yet something else I knew nothing about. I walked wide-eyed into the room, chose for myself some seat, and waited to see what would happen. Which is about when three of the students started scribbling madly away. As soon as they were done scribbling on one piece of paper they would hand it to their right. The three scribbling students were evenly distributed (a term I learned in statistics class - yet another of my hated and poorly understood subjects) around the round table, so it did not take too long before one of these pieces of papers were passed to me. I stared at it and came to the wonderful conclusion that they were doing the homework for us. So I joined the others and soon we were all frantically copying the homework assignments. My friend said to me, as he passed it to me, “Oh, and you should try to word things your own way.” As I worded them my own way I would quickly try to grasp what the heck I was scribbling about, and between that, the classes I attended, and the few hours I could stomach before the final exams, it was my only participation in the course.
And when the final exams came (there were only two tests), I sat diligently with all the others, and tried to make sense of the questions set before me, grasping at the straws from my memory of copying someone else’s homework, taking wild guesses most of the time. It may have even been multiple choice. In any case, it seems that most of the class was in the same boat because, with the exception of the three students we were copying the homework from, we all failed miserably and the teacher was forced to bell curve us, until I miraculously got my 70% for that class. Because the final average among all the students must be a certain percentage. Each year it is a weeding out process. Practically speaking, a certain amount of students must fail. I was just on the smarter end of all us dummies. Which showed to me what an utter farce the entire concept of university can be. I am only trying to illustrate to you that there are many ways you can skin this cat, and if you want to be smart about it, seek out those ways, learn them, and apply them when necessary.
Once you are in the real world, and are after a promotion, perhaps you could let your boss win in golf. I am sure there are many ways you can skin that cat as well.
Heck, if I am going to tell you my little secrets, might as well tell them through interesting stories, no? Another story is the one business class I took. Now this was a subject which really interested me, because I knew I wanted to own my own business one day, remember? (I studied economics because, unfortunately, my grades were not good enough to get into business, so I chose the next best thing.) This class taught about running a business, and all the students were formed into groups, each group representing a company, and these companies were to compete on some market. We had to decide how much money to spend on advertising, how much on research and development, and so on. All the decisions were pumped into a computer program. Each week the groups would submit their decisions, and the results of their decisions (their individual market shares and company profits) were posted on Monday for all to see. To get an edge I immediately asked older graduates of this course and was informed that I should start with a million dollar advertising budget, moving on from there. I suggested this to my group and they all willingly nodded, happily assigning me as the executive board chairman in charge of making all the decisions, and doing all the work. Which was perfectly fine with me, because this was my opportunity to test my dreams and see how I might perform in the market place.
We invested our million dollars into advertising and right off the bat we were at the top of the pack! We remained there for a while but over the course of the class we would slowly drop down, until we ended near the bottom. Then came the time for the final report, which I prepared myself, since no one else in my group had a clue or interest in getting involved. I poured my heart out and explained to my shareholders (teachers) why we performed so poorly. I used much fancy speech and waving of arms, but the sad truth of the matter is that I did not even know I could view the investment decisions of the other groups. Which goes to show how spaced out I can be. Essentially, I was blind and making investment decisions with no clue about to my competitions’ decisions. If I had known that, I would have simply watched how they spend their money and mimic them to maintain our leading position. Simple algorithm analysis. Mathematics has always been my best subject, so if I had known this, I am sure I could have maintained our initial lead. But I couldn’t admit this to my teachers, considering how pathetic it was that I did not know of this basic fact, in which case I spent much energy bullshitting, one should say, and successfully attained for us --you guessed it-- a 70% grade. But the art of bullshit is a valuable art in itself. How on earth do you think someone like president Bush can get elected twice in a row? Just listen to speeches given by most politicians. The speeches given by executive board directors to their shareholders concerning the poor results of the last quarter can only be compared to the political speeches of supreme bullshit. Take Enron for example and the endless speeches given by their corporate heads trying to allay everyone’s fears while the ship was rapidly sinking and the big boys were pulling out all the cash to hide it somewhere offshore. Hence, the 70% I earned for our group was well justified.
Obviously I did not do sufficient market research, as tends to be my weakness, since I like to fly by the seat of my pants so much. But it makes things more fun for me. In any case, I’m just trying to inspire onto you the thought that you can skin this cat in many ways, and you should open yourself to that opportunity and use your creative mind and all your resources to reach your goal, no matter how you get there. You may find that the diligent and honest person is the one doing all the work in a company, somewhere in a back room, with others take the credit for it. Or who are craftily winning promotions left and right. I am not trying to inspire you to go down an outright dishonest road, but if squeaking gets you a promotion while honest and diligent work does not, why are you not squeaking, or why do you continue to work in such an unjust environment? From my experience in the workforce and the many types of jobs I have dabbled in, the world is full of injustice. Which is one of the reasons I always wanted to run my own business. There is nothing I despise more than to take orders from someone I consider less intelligent than me, and retarded orders at that. Or I might see a better way of running things. I had one boss and I kept coming to with ways he could better run things, to which he one day said to me, “You and your systems.” He applied some of them, perhaps others he did not understand, or did not want to take the risk.
So dishonesty is not what I am trying to promote (rather, I consider myself an exceedingly honest person) but what I am trying to suggest is that you analyse all your options and not just assume the straight and narrow, or put all your eggs in that basket. Obviously, you have to learn the material one way or another. There are tutors available (yet another resource I was not aware of or never applied) who are there to help you where you are experiencing difficulties. You might ask for help from one of your classmates. Perhaps you are doing better in certain subjects and can help others in exchange for them helping you with subjects they are good in.
Now to the subject of actually learning the material. There are many ways you can accomplish this as well. It was suggested to me that I should read the material before going to class, so that I understand it well. I tried this. BORING! It was so repressive I could simply not accomplish it. But perhaps this strategy will work for you. Generally I would manage from the notes I wrote in class, and the only time I actually studied was for two weeks prior to the final exams. I would do what homework I had to, but nothing more. Perhaps not the greatest strategy to suggest to others, but there might be useful insight into how I accomplished what I did.
First of all, if you do not understand something, I would suggest you do the necessary background reading while the teacher is covering it. Do not delay this for the final exams and do not cruise through a course if you do not know what the teacher is talking about (unless you are blessed in the very particular example of the rational economics course I mentioned above). Make sure you generally understand the topic while you are taking it and going to class. Focus on areas you are weak in and which are not clear to you. Save the memorising of things until just before the exam.
As the exam approaches (I was a horrible procrastinator and always started about two weeks before), start building up by doing your necessary background reading and iron over those areas you do not quite understand. Do all your time consuming work now - to get the general picture. But as the exam approaches, you should start compiling your list of facts etc. that you should remember. Sometimes in class I see how a teacher stresses some point, followed by a small period of silence as his intense gaze scans the classroom. “Aha,” I would think, “he must want me to remember this.” Which is when I would pull out my red marker and circle the point. In my shirt pocket I would always carry around with me various coloured pens and highlighters, accentuating this point or that in different ways. By the time I was done with all my notes and textbooks, it would look like a child had gone through them in finger painting class. But obviously, you do not want to overdo it, otherwise all your material will look like a finger painting by a five year old. The highlights are there for you. When reading the material from the textbook, I would write down key ones on a separate piece of paper. You can tell which points are important and which can be used in an exam. You want to compile the year’s information down to some swallowable size. Obviously it is important that you generally understand the concept, but exams are not really tests of your general understanding. You are not asked to write a general essay about the entire course (actually, it depends on the subject, doesn’t it), but you are tested with insignificant facts, dates and names that you will soon forget and never apply again. The test does not necessarily prepare you for the subject in any way but is more of a method of weeding out the weaker students. A certain amount of failures are expected. So when you are studying, think about all the silly points your teacher might pull out of the bag and test your knowledge on.
As the exam and doomsday is approaching ever closer, I would increasingly consolidate my notes into these little facts and useless bits of information that I felt I needed to remember. As I go over them, again and again, I might cross some out or mark them if I felt I will certainly remember that ‘in three days’. I might write up new notes on a new piece of paper, until I am walking to the exam with all the other students, like sheep in a procession before the guillotine, but I have with me my last one or two pieces of paper onto which I have written the information I have failed to securely log into my short term memory. Or basic points which I felt I should keep fresh in my mind. As I am walking to the exam, I am going over these last points, branching off to what I remember, and keeping this information fresh and alive in my head.
Which brings me to the exam schedule. Towards the end of my “educational career”, I got into a habit of organising my schedule around my exams. This is because I found I was most perky and fresh a few hours after waking up. So I would plan my schedule so that I would wake up, if possible, from a deep sleep about three hours before each exam. Not very healthy on the body, and required lots of coffee and tea (I found I need 1 cup of coffee for every three cups of tea - the tea seemed to keep my chest awake while the coffee my eyelids), but I managed to shift my awake times according to my planned schedule. Perhaps it would be 2 in the morning and I would go for a “lunch break” to my favourite pub, as they were winding things down and getting ready to stagger out the door. I would shoot a game of pool with the stragglers and free my mind for a while. Sometimes I would play a game of squash at 8 in the evening. You need to keep your juices flowing, to keep your mind awake and alert, and ready for the intense one hour exam session. Nothing worse than taking an exam at 9 in the evening, after a day of cramming more information in, just when I am getting sleeping and nodding off at the exam desk. No, you definitely want to be fully alert during this period, and I found the best way to accomplish this was to have a nice and full sleep a certain number of hours before an exam. But many people say they cannot take naps during the day. Power naps do my mind wonders, so you will have to learn how to gauge yourself and optimise how you go about doing things.
Another trick I learned at the tail end of my studies was the possibility of studying in the gymnasium where the exams will be held. Find out which room your exam will be held in and go there a few days before and study your compiled notes. Perhaps you are trying to remember some complicated formula while staring at a certain fixture on the wall. It is called the power of association, and it is a powerful tool indeed. I had one football player friend who learned this trick whereby he could go down the line of new players, ask them what their names were, and then immediately go back down the line and call out each of their names. That is because he was using a story, or association, with each of their names. Perhaps he would look at one fellow’s orange collar, derive some story which matched his name, and then remember that when it came time to remember his name. Your brain works this way, so use this to your advantage. When studying like this in the exam room, you might not develop stories relating the lamp fixture to the mathematical formula you are trying to remember, but just looking at it could lodge something deep in the unconscious of your brain, which then resurfaces when trying to come up with that formula during the exam period.
Again, I am just trying to give you some tips, and to show you that you should get creative about how you force all this information into your noodle.
Many times your exams might be multiple choice. For this there is a strategy as well, and I am sure you can find lots of information about it. But the general principles are simple, as one teacher explained it to us. First of all, with any question on any exam, if you are not certain and it is bogging you down, MOVE ON. Do not get stuck on one question if it is taking too much time. Not only are you wasting precious minutes but it might cause you stress and bundle you up in knots, intimidate you, increase your worry, and it might make it more difficult to answer other questions.
When you sit at your desk, a few minutes before the exam would start, this is when I would put away my compiled notes and start to meditate. Breath in, breath out. Clear your mind. Bring your mind to ease. You want the information to flow out freely and not to be knotted up in a bundle of stress. I would try to clear my mind of all my surroundings. You can probably find on google much reading on “meditation and studies”. Tap into the power of your mind. Our conscious mind only uses about 6% of your brains, so tapping into your brain’s potential is an entirely different subject we can talk about.
Once I have totally cleared my mind and the exam is only seconds away, I’ll then gear up my mind for an intensive one hour session. Sometimes I might purposefully wait 30 seconds before beginning, just to get my mind at ease and in the right state. It is one hour, during which you can pump up your adrenaline and use your mind very intensively, spilling out the useless information onto the paper in a very intense manner. Which is one of the main reasons I wanted to be well rested a certain amount of hours beforehand, so that I would have the reserve to think so intensively for an hour.
If you get to a point you are not certain of and it might pose a stumbling block, immediately move on to the next point and don’t let yourself get bogged down. I might make a mark in light pencil next to that point indicating the degree of my uncertainty. As you whip through the points you are confident in, you’ll get to the end and already you might feel confident that you have enough points to get your magic 70%, or whatever it is. You can quickly peruse the test with your pencilled marks on the side and get a rough overview of your progress.
Now you go back and focus on those questions you are less certain about, starting from the least least certain towards the most least certain. Perhaps, after completing your first sweep of the test, you might have been reminded of something you previously forgot. If so, you might consider going back to that previous point right away lest you forget that point. Remember, as you read the test questions, they cover the subject and it might remind you of something that is buried deep and lodged in your noodle. If you do not remember the point when you initially read the question, do not let it stress you out but move on, because that point can often magically surface later during the exam.
By the time you are nearing the end of your hour, you might be spending it on those points you are least certain about. Perhaps you feel you’ve already attained 85% and now it is a matter of adding a few more percentage points.
But you should also gauge your time intelligently. Perhaps SOME guess will get you some points. Especially if it is multiple choice. As you are running out of time, do not just relax and take your time on the questions you are uncertain about, but manage your remaining time to write down whatever you can, to try and score as many bonus points as possible.
If you do not know an answer at all, the secret of multiple choice is the following. Let’s say there are four possible answers. Usually two of them are way off the mark and two of them are closer together. Chances are (we are talking about calculus now and probabilities, like when you gamble at the roulette wheel) that one of the two similar responses contain the right one. If so, then you have increased your chance of stumbling on the right answer from 1 in 4 to 1 in 2. Which means you now have a 50% chance of getting the right answer. Even if you only had a 1 in 4 or 25% chance of getting the right answer, the 25% that you get right will only be a bonus on top of the ones you know you got right.
But the science of multiple choice can vary. Sometimes the teacher uses a system whereby you get penalised for guesses, so that you will not score 25% if you know absolutely nothing about the subject.
Which brings me to yet another story: the hardest multiple choice exam I ever took in my life. And what could that have concerned? Well, for my Czech driver’s licence. The Czech Republic was once nestled in the Austro-Hungarian empire, which itself was notorious for its bureaucracy. If it is because of that, or the general mentality of the Czechs, I do not know, but the Czechs tend to do things in such a bureaucratic and insanely screwed up-into-a-knot manner than one can only marvel at how they manage to survive. Even their language is screwed up into complex knots, and they are proud of it! On the other hand, having to learn such a complex language might exercise their brain from a very early stage, which could prove beneficial when trying to outsly any competition.
Anyway, I was studying the very thick handbook in the customary honest and diligent manner, when I took a break to peruse through the very thin booklet of possible multiple choice questions. The way they had it set up was there were about 650 possible multiple choice questions, whereby the exam would have about 100. After studying some of the questions, I quickly realised the extremely and insanely bureaucratic manner in which the questions were posed. They tried to throw you off in every possible manner. Which seemed further ironic considering how badly many Czechs drive. Under and following communism the accidental insurance system was quite cheap, so there was no great motivation to drive carefully. Such a complicated and bureaucratic test would not force people to drive more carefully or weed out the poor drivers, but it might limit the number of drivers to those who are rocket scientists. However, in the typical Czech manner -- as one person explained to me: “When they [the government] go tick, I go tack.” -- the easiest and most logical solution was simply to bribe the instructor. This is of course the option I chose (I did not want to delay my travel Europe world tour departure longer than I had to). The answers were provided for me as the inspecting police instructor strategically went to the back room to eat his donuts and coffee (and count his percentages). While driving the test, the police inspector would strategically gaze out the window while the school owner would occasionally grab my steering wheel, or apply the break or play with the clutch (Czech driving schools have cars equipped with a break, gas and clutch also for the instructor, and these are the cars used for the tests as well), whispering to me what I should be doing. Absolutely ridiculous in any sense of the word, but this is the way Czechs operate.
In any case, it was my goal, even in light of the calm assurances of the school owner that some means will be provided in exchange for my bribe money, to score well on this insane test anyway. (I will try to translate some of the questions here later.) It quickly became apparent that I should throw away that big manual and focus on remembering the answers to all 650 multiple choice questions. Many were obvious, but many were written in a very sly manner such that, even if I were to lock myself on an island for a year and learn the thick manual inside out, it would not have helped me anyway. And this is where I used the power of association to make sure I remembered which of the stupid and deceptive answers was the right one. Every time I remembered the correct answer I would pencil a check mark next to that answer. Once I got three check marks it meant that I could be confident about that question and consider it sealed. If I got three correct ticks but also three wrong guesses, I might keep working on that question until I got it right. In this manner I would slowly wean down the number of questions to a minimum. And again, as I was waiting for the exam to start, I would go over and over those extremely deceptive questions and try to remember which was the right response each time. In this manner I scored quite high. And this is the only logical approach to this type of an exam.
I am just trying to illustrate to you the necessity of looking at previous exams so that you can develop for yourself an optimum study approach. To just grab the thick textbooks and lock yourself in your rooms, or on your island, or in the library, as my housemates have done, will only deny yourself of all the other opportunities a university campus and life can offer you.
And speaking of textbooks, I also eventually clued into the possibility of buying used books. New books can be quite expensive, and you only use them for a year. Everyone tries to sell them to recoup their losses, so hunt around for that. Heck, you might even find the scribbles and notes made by the previous student useful for you. I’ve heard that other students were also selling copies of their personal notes. After a student has gone through a year’s course with a teacher, do you not think they might have some useful tips for you? So do not enter your school year like a naïve and willing sheep before the slaughter house but accumulate all the resources you can think of to give you an advantage against the rest. Because it really is a rat race against the rest. Either they will shift the bell curve up or down, so what really matters is how you fair against the rest of the pack. Do not preoccupy yourself with the percentage numbers alone.
And finally, speaking of multiple choice questions, many universities use MSAT and PSAT type scores. These are basically intelligence tests on a general scale and which serve to test students across universities. Just because your particular school gives you 90% does not mean you are smarter than a student who receives 75% at a much more difficult school. Not everyone is aware of practices and grading schemes of every school out there, which is why these broad and general MSAT tests were devised. They are made up of vocabulary oriented sections and math and logic oriented sections.
Again, I just went to these to see how I faired, but in these cases as well I learned there is an entire science you can apply in order to increase your score. Remember that will be compared to all the other students, so you want to score well against them, and use all the resources at your disposal to make sure you score the best that you can. I’ve learned that you definitely can and should prepare for these tests. Like the insane multiple choice question exam for my Czech driver’s licence, you can purchase previous tests and study and practice them. Give yourself test exams and test yourself. There is an entire science on this and I’m sure you will find ample information on it in your school or through the internet.
Therefore, my friends, after completing my four years, I learned that I did not apply any of the smart strategies above. I simply went to school, on the assumption that I will learn something useful and that something good will come out of me, one day. I did not apply almost any tricks, but later realised what the “game” was all about. So I can only suggest to you to go about it smartly and examine and research all your options.
It’s a poor cat, but you gotta skin it one way or another. Just find the best way, and good luck!