Yay! Do’s and Don’ts
I passed my qualifying exam! =)
I wish all the PhD students will be successful on their qualifying exams and continue on their research path. If it does not conclude with success, I believe that they shouldn’t give up their dreams. Whatever they want to do, they should just focus and try another way to achieve their goals.
In our department, qualifying exams are based on three research questions. We need to report our answers in two weeks. After the submission of the reports to the committee members, we make a presentation to the committee. Our web page also explains qualifying exams as here.
Since this period is extraordinary, I tried to learn the experiences of my friends to understand the nature of the exam. Some of their suggestions really worked. Depending on my experience, I wanted to share with you what you can do during your qualifying exam. Maybe some of them will work for you as well.
Relax! I know it is hard while you’re trying to understand and learn the concepts, solve the questions and write the report. I was in the same condition. Just calm down. If you know how to relax, then do it. If you don’t know how to relax, then just do what you were doing before the exam (play games, read books, cook etc.)
Start all the questions as soon as possible. I think, this is one of the most helpful suggestion from one of my friend. Since you start and have an idea for each question, a solution of one question may inspire to solve other questions. Therefore, try to deal with all questions at the same time. When you stucked at one question, jump to another question and move on. That also helps you to use your time efficiently and motivates you to dealing with all questions at the same time.
Write the report while you are solving the questions. I strongly suggest that whenever you solve a question, even partially, write it on your report. Writing takes time unexpectedly longer than you expected.
If you think that you have ideas that may work, you can also write them on your report. It will help you to remember what you have thought and may help you to find an answer.
Only focus on single question to solve all of its sections. First 2 days, I was just dealing with one section of one question and it really decreased my motivation and understanding. Skip that section after some amount of time, if you cannot write anything almost 6 hours.
Try to solve all questions relying on your background. Some questions may have a special structure that you haven’t seen before. Therefore, spend reasonable time to understand the nature of the problem and the solution techniques. Then, start to solve the problem.
and opposite of Do’s (I guess first don’t also partially opposite of one of the do’s, anyway I hope I could explain it) =)
I wish you a great week.