Flashcards at the ready!
Barely have we shaken off the Thanksgiving food coma, when the next trial appears on the horizon: finals. Standing stubbornly between us and the next food feast.
Art History takes on a particularly nasty role in this scene of impending doom. All semester long students have stared wistfully at the projection screen, basking in the aesthetic pleasure of various pieces of art. But, now they find themselves rudely shaken from their reveries. Informed by professors that they must commit to memory dates, artists and titles for 100+ works, the panic sets in.
Take a deep breath:
The beautiful thing about timed exams is that professors are forced to cram a semester’s worth of material into a 2 hour time frame. Meaning some piece will be prioritized over others. That Athenian krater you spent 3 minutes on in the first lecture isn’t liable to show up on the extended essay. Ranking pieces from low, medium and high probably of appearance on the test will help you concentrate your study efforts. Confused about what qualifies as high priority? The longer the prof talked about a piece, the more important it is.
Memorize, Memorize, Memorize
Okay, so there’s no getting around this one. But, there exist good and bad ways to go about it. If your preferred flash card regiment is going to take you longer to make than the time you’ll have left to drill — scrap it. However you like to organize the material, just drill, drill, drill, until you dream of flashcards. Also, don’t skim on your low priority items. Professors will undoubtedly throw in an obscure piece into the multiple choice just to make sure you suffered enough in your preparation.
While memorization can be dull, at least it provides relatively easy points. Either the Mona Lisa was painted in 1503, or you’re losing a point. Essays, on the other hand are the real enemy. You’ve got 15-30 minutes to spill ink on a subject that often would be better suited to a multi-volume encyclopedia. The important thing here is to figure out what your professor thought was important. Review your diligently rendered notes, or offer coffee to the girl in the first row who scribbled furiously through the whole semester. On test day, make sure to organize your thoughts into some coherent essay-ish structure. And work on your penmanship. Without any data to back this up, I strongly suspect that essays written in better handwriting earn higher marks.