Preparing for an exam in Germany
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, my exams originally scheduled in the mid March were postponed to second week of May, which was last week. When I heard this news from the university, I had mixed feelings. I was relieved on the one hand because the materials are highly comprehensive and massive. On the other hand, I was concerned about my productivity. Parkinson’s law states that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” I am a strong believer of this law since I think I was not as productive in the extra given months as I should have been although I have been able to maintain my consistency. Moreover, the fact that I will have an exam sooner or later is always a pressure for me. Studying is joyful but you will probably get why by the time you finish this post.
“What????” This was my initial reaction when my advisor told us that we would have just one final exam in my Master orientation last year. No mid-terms, no quizzes, just one final exam. I wasn’t glad at all by the fact that I can just chill out in the middle of the semester, but felt rather anxious because my grade, which might be more important than my bachelor grade, is entirely dependent on this one final exam.
My anxiety also stemmed from my acclimation to the traditional semester structure in the US where four mid-terms, good number of quizzes, and one final exam in the lecture would take up 70% of my final grade; lab participation, presentation, and lab report may take up the rest 30%. I liked this system quite a lot because this system forced me to review stuffs daily or weekly basis to prepare for a mid-term. It makes easier for me to prepare for the cumulative final exam. If I screwed up my test for some reason, I was able to compensate my grade with my lab performance and writing project. Here in Germany, however, I needed to come up with a plan and changed my study strategy radically in order to be prepared for this system.
Keine Panik (don’t panic, if you are a student like me) because there are some great news with German tests. Firstly, depending on modules, some extra credits may be granted on final lab presentation and laboratory performance. Secondly, (hundreds of) study questions are given to students rather than practice tests. The exam questions may be slightly modified from the study questions. Thirdly, some modules offer tutorials where professors and students go through study questions together. Because answering a single study question might take tens of minutes to hours, this could save a large amount of time. Last but not least, we have three chances to take the test in total: first and second in the current semester and third in the following semester. Obviously, the material gets harder in the second and the third test. Thus, it’s best to take the first exam and enjoy your break 🙂
In conclusion, I think my two tests went alright. It was absolutely fun to delve deeper into my field. I am also glad that I can now focus on my current semester. While studying for my first exam in Germany, I contemplated a lot about how I should study at a German university. Hopefully, I will prepare for my next exam much more effectively. I may write a post about it in the near future, delving deeper into how to study for an exam at a German university.
After the exams, I decided to reward myself with pizza and beer 🙂
P.S. In case anyone’s wondering how the exams are taken place in Germany during this pandemic, here is how. A detailed instruction of social distancing and other restrictions were given to students prior to the exams. We were instructed how to keep distance between us before, during, and after taking the exam. I thought everything was under control and felt very safe while taking my two exams.
Thanks for reading and stay healthy.