Episode 58: The 411 for URI 101

Hey there boys and girls, if you think you are getting off from having to endure one of my long lectures this week then you are wrong my young padawans. I am doing this particular form twofold. You get the oddly non Puerto Rican accent emitting from your speakers should you choose to do this via audiofile. Your other option is to read this lecture via my blog, I get no economic or cultural capital through here, at least not for now, but that doesn’t stop me from pushing it towards potential future readers. So feel free to at least go by different blog posts and see if any of them pique your interests. Now time to put all the most important points of your URI 101 training to make sure each of you survive and thrive through finals. As boring as this may seem, please go through the whole thing.

How to study for finals when you know what you are doing:

I assume that all of you have been going to your classes and are keeping up with your assignments.The first thing you need to do is look at the exam schedule each if you have. Finals take place at very different times and classrooms than what you are used to. Some of them are even super early or really late, be prepared and show up before exam time to get yourself psyched up. Exams on average take about two hours, rarely do you need to be there the whole time, but exams are designed with all that time. Hence, these exams are about twice as much things to do than regular ones. Do not panic at this first glance of having so many papers at your hands.

With the schedule, plan out how much time to adequately prepare you have and how much you need. Exams are spaced very randomly so you can get them almost immediately one after another or with a few days in between. There is almost no chance to change exam times unless you have direct overlap between schedules and if you do it’s normally during makeup exam timeslots. Be warned. The best way to prepare in my opinion is to go over the syllabus and really look at the material that should be included. Even with an exam that won’t cover all the material, professors will often include callbacks to previously posted material. Some would even make  pastiche of stuff from previous exams almost directly from previous exams. If you have your earlier exams, pay close attention to the style and types of questions that are typically asked. Never ask your professors directly what is suppossed to come on the final unless the guy (or gal) is a complete douche then go for it. Try and convince your professors to provide a review of the material. Nine times out of ten they will actually give you something that comes word for word in the exam so consider it free points and take a lot of notes. Speaking of, your best form of studying is going over stuff you have written about in notebooks all this time. If you are not a thorough note taker (like me) then try and go over mental flashbacks of important class material. Trying to read over the entirety of the mateial again will take way too much time and might not help as much as you think. Focus on the application of material, ie take the basics and be ready to apply it in different ways. Get decent sleep, avoid partying, and stay cool.

How to study if you have no idea what you are doing. Assuming that you have rarely been present, conscious, paying attention, or whatever there is still a chance you can do well enough in an exam to pass a class. It’s pretty much impossible but it’s still worth a try so you might as well put in maximum effort. Follow the same basic points as the previous part. After that, you officially have no time for fun or sleep from now until exams. Read intros and conclusions to everything since main ideas are summarized in those areas. Try to find summaries online or through friends of big stuff. You still need to be able to  provide specific examples in your answers so try and focus on one or two things that you know super well. Be ready to stretch the hell out of what you do know for every possible scenario.

Critical essays, how the fuck do they work?

If you aren’t taking a final exam, then there’s a good chance you have to make a critical essay of some sort. It takes a different amount of effort but it can be just as difficult as any exam, especially if you leave it for the last minute. The most important part when writing an essay  is sticking to a central theme. Sometimes they tell you what it is that you are suppossed to write about, other times you are told to choose. Here are some pointers if you are given free choice but if you have no idea what to write on or can’t think of something quick enough. THe one thing that grinds a professor’s gears when reading essays is plot summary. They know the story a thousand times better than you and don’t want to hear a crappy bullet point version. What you do need to show is specificity so take your central theme, use a direct example, say why it’s important. That’s going to be your model to follow throughout each paragraph. Depending on how many pages you need you have to provide enough examples. If you need to write essayish answers for a final exam you need three examples minimum on average.

In terms of theme, one of my personal favorites is that of home. Just about every story, film, novel, etc has the concept of home somewhere around its premise if you look hard enough. It’s not just a place to live, it’s the idea of somewhere where you are both safe and comfortable. It is both a place of origin and something you aspire to. It is something we run away from and run towards. Let me give you an example from my favorite movie, tv show, and comic book.

Consider Star Wars, where home is a place of safety but ultimately it is a root that keeps the characters in place. Unfortunately, it means that they cannot go forward without losing their original home, if they lack a place they can go back to then the only option is towards adventure and danger. Luke’s home in Tatooine was destroyed alongside Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru, the only family he’s ever known. Leia has her home world obliterated in front of her eyes. Without a home, they can only towards the rebellion as their only cause. It gets even deeper when you consider that thanks to Episode 3 we know that both had a home almost fabricated for them by Obi Wan and Yoda so that they could be safe from the clutches of the Empire.

Dragon Ball Z, not giving a summary if you don’t know the show, has Goku claiming that Earth is his home, even if he is actually an alien. Picollo goes through pretty much a similar identity crisis a few times. It gets more complex once you consider that most characters leave the safety of their homes for constant training and planet endangering battles. Home is a place worth fighting for and because of it they can’t really enjoy it.

Batman has perhaps the best place to live in by far in the form of Wayne Manor and the batcave but none of them are really ever a home. The death of his parents scars him to the point that he can never really feel at home, even if surrounded with luxury and awesome gadgets. Alfred is there to make the place as close to home as possible, acting as surrogate mother and father to Bruce, even with no mention of his native England. Batman tries to provide a vicarious home to others who have suffered a similar sense of loss. All of the Robins have their homes shattered and rebuilt but replaced with one of constant training rather than one of safety and comfort.

There a lot of different themes but home as both origin and destination is always one of my favorites because of versatility. Keep studying, and stay calm because you will do fine. Should you ever panic, believe in the me that believes in you.

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