By Ernie Fowler – Nashville CHSD #99
The first semester is now history. Students are home preparing for the holidays and recovering from semester exams. When I was a student, I thought studying for the exams was worse than actually taking the exams.
Some students start prepping for semester exams days or weeks ahead of time. Others wait until the night before then try to stay awake long enough to burn what they need to know into their memory. The strategy that I used to get through college was like a game. My goal was to out think the teacher. I did this by asking myself what questions I would include if I was that teacher. In order to implement this strategy, I had to begin sizing up the teacher from day one. I had to get a grasp on the teacher’s personality type. Yes, I profiled. Some teachers were what I would classify as “legend builders”. It seemed as though their goal was to prove to the world that no class offered anywhere on the face of the Earth would compare to the difficulty level of their class. For those teachers, I had to be like a Ninja in prepping for the exam. A question could come from anywhere (textbook, lecture note, class handout, etc.) so I had to be armed with every possible answer to any potential question. That made for a long process of note card building. I wrote questions on one side of the card and answers on the other. There would be no way to succeed if fate dealt me four teachers in this category with exams all on one day!
Other teachers I might classify as the “shot gun” types. They blasted a great deal of information toward the students in hopes that some of it would stick. In college, these folks would give us five essay questions and tell us to answer four of them. I knew those teachers wanted to know if we had a general idea of what we were talking about. I would evaluate my notes to see which areas of the class were most likely to be inquired. I was pretty good at identifying overarching themes and condensing them down to essay questions. From there, I had to figure out how to make the same two or three points in my answer but state them in a number of different ways with ample examples.
I had some teachers who were what I called “celestials”. The only way to get the best of those teachers was through divine intervention. Heaven only knew where they got their questions. My only hope in those exams was that I could see a phrase or word in their exam questions that might jolt me into a flashback to something the teacher said in class that I could parlay into a half coherent answer. The only way to prep for that kind of teacher was to combine strategies from the “legend builder” and the “shot gun” then get on my knees and pray that the results of the exams didn’t cost me credit for the class! In the end, I survived high school and even the university. Miracles do happen and, fortunately, first semester exams occur during the season of miracles!
NCHS Superintendent’s Notes