Preparing for Examinations in Theology Workshop 21 November, 2008
Before we begin … • Take two minutes to jot down a few thoughts for yourself (not for sharing) so be honest • What most worries me about the exams is ….
Outline of the Session • A general overview • Why examinations? • Revision –what and how • On the day • An examiner’s view of examinations • Subject by Subject • Systematic Theology • Moral Theology • Scripture • Questions and Comment
Why examinations? • Examinations are part of the learning process • An element in assessment • The assessment has already started – Continuous Assessment • Stimulus to order your thoughts • Help you to think under pressure • Satisfaction of knowing that you have studied • Step on the way to your degree and future career
Revision –what and how • Revision: a. The action of revising or looking over again; esp. critical or careful examination or perusal with a view to correcting or improving. Also spec., the action of going over a subject that has already been learnt, esp. in preparation for an examination. (Oxford English Dictionary)
“going over a subject that has already been learnt” • You are (well, should not be) not seeing it for the first time! • Reviewing – putting into order all the material at your disposal e.g. • Course outline • Lecture Notes – lecturer’s handouts and your own • Text Book • MOODLE • Notes of your reading and study
Get a framework! • What was the aim of this course? • If in doubt, look at the aim in Course Module in Kalendarium • Whatwere the main sections – how do they relate to one and other? • Test yourself! • Try to write outline answers to possible questions without consulting the textbook or notes
How to Revise • What works for you • We are all different and work to different rhythms • Spread it out – don’t leave it to the end • Revise actively • Note-taking • Learning – e.g. definitions • Synthesizing – making connections • Test yourself e.g. questions in text-book • Half hour of active revision better than two just turning over the pages • If you get stuck, take a break – walk, coffee etc
Practical Tips • Time of Day • We are all different and work to different rhythms • Alone or with others? • What works for you • If working with others, need discipline! • e.g. time, place, how long will we work, what method will we use … • A Balanced Life • Don’t let the other bits of your life disappear • Socialising, sport, family • Fresh air helps the brain • Adequate sleep • Drink and study don’t mix
A Word to Mature Students • Your first exams are another adventure – enjoy it! • Your fears are reasonable e.g. • ‘I’ve never done a written exam before’ • You’ve done lots of new things since September! • ‘The old memory lets me down’ • but it is not just memory work • How will I get through so much? • Take it in stages and pace yourself • Talk about them to your mentor or lecturers
At the Examination • Read the instructions you will get before the examination carefully • Check the time-table for • exam dates • Times • Place – Ist Theology exams usually in Top Loftus • First day check your seat on the plan • Arrive on time but not too early • Comparing notes with others can make you nervous
Fill out all the details at top of the script, and each subsequent one fully and correctly • Follow the instructions of the invigilators • Follow instructions on the question paper • If it says ‘two questions’ do two, not three • Take some time to plan the answer – rough work • Keep an eye on the clock • Read the final product before the end
What do I do if I get a blank? • Pause for breath and relax • Look at your rough work • Try writing a couple of sentences at the end of your rough work • Continue • only in very extreme cases should you start all over again
What are they looking for? An examiner’s view of examinations
Examiner’s View of Exams • 1. We are on your side! • An exam not an attempt to trip you up • We love to see you thinking! • We do not have to meet a ‘failure quota!’ • Failing you means more work for us! • We DO like you and want you to do well
I need to be able to read your paper, so write clearly • keep your handwriting neat • use space intelligently • skip a few lines between answers • number answers as on exam paper • you are not illuminating the Book of Kells, so no colours please
Answer the question as it is set, not as you wish it had been set • Exam questions are never set in the ‘tell everything you know about …’ format • Make sure you understand what the question means – note words like • ‘Outline …’ • ‘Discuss ..’ • ‘Compare …’ • ‘Give examples …’
Three examples from past papers • Comment on the two versions of the Covenant with Abraham in Genesis 15 and 17, highlighting any important points of theological interest. (Scripture) • Outline the teaching of Dei Verbum on the transmission of divine revelation. (Systematic) • Underlining in the original paper. • Write a short note on each of the following (a) principle of double effect, (b) intrinsically evil acts (c) formal and material norms. Give examples of each. (Moral)
It helps to have a beginning, a middle and an end! • A logical order to your presentation – spend some time marshalling your ideas • A good introductory paragraph is essential • It should be an advance summary of what you intend doing in the answer • Round off with a brief conclusion
Be sure you understand the technical terms of your subject • Do not write out long biblical quotations (they are easier to read in the bible). Just give the reference (Chapter and verse) and enough to make your point • Please re-read your paper for spelling and writing mistakes
Common errors in exam scripts • over-use of apostrophe • Apostrophe is a sign of possession, not plural. • But ‘it’s’ means ‘it is,’ not ‘of it’ • confusion of ‘where’ and ‘were’, ‘there’ and ‘their’ • using past participle for past tense – e.g. ‘she done’ for ‘she did,’ ‘he rung’ for ‘he rang’ • do not use ‘textese’
After the Exams … • Take a rest! • We look forward to seeing you back for second semester – begins 2 February • Interim results (letter grade A, B, C etc) will be posted on the notice board according to numbers • ‘interim’ because all results need to be passed by Examination Board – in your interests • If you have a query, there is a Consultation Day
What it is all about – roll on November 2011!
A student’s prayer O wise God, I pray that my mind might be rested, my body energized, and my spirit inspired for the exam I must write. Grant me peace and assurance so that I might do the best I am able, regardless of what that might be. Be with my fellow students and may I be a good example to them, offering reassurance and confidence regardless of how I feel. May I be honest and insightful, and able to give a true record of what I have learned. In the end, may any disappointment be borne with grace, and any joy accompanied with humility. I write this exam with you, O Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.