Can you believe that comps are in 7 weeks?! Where does the time go?? I’d tell you I can’t believe it but the amount of tension in my shoulders that’s been steadily increasing over the past few weeks says otherwise. More advanced colleagues assure me that it’s nothing to (over) worry about, that it’s just a hurdle that you have to get over and it doesn’t matter how high you jump but just that you make it over, and that everyone passes. I like this last piece of consolation because it’s actually false. #funnynotfunny But I guess we’re doing some sort of positive imagery, so we just ignore that fact that people actually do fail. But anyways. Here’s a compilation of advice regarding comps prep:

  • Begin studying 4-5 months in advance
  • Form study groups of about 3-4 people
  • Gather all articles/books first (because this can take way more time than you’d imagine)
  • Create concise summaries on each reading: include abstract, 1 sentence finding/contribution to the field, 1-2 sentences on methods – data used, variables (independent/dependent), type of analysis etc., and then a couple paragraph summary (this should be easy because you’ve had lots of practice doing this over the previous semesters as you’ve read for courses)
  • Write/outline practice questions (i.e., simulate the test itself)
  • Read and review practice questions among your group members

For the past couple months, I’ve been reading through the reading list, creating summaries, and outlining questions for the two specialty areas – Stratification and Social Psychology – that I’ll be comping in this September (SEPTEMBER OMG that’s like tomorrow). One of the best parts about studying for comps is reading all the fun stuff that I want to read. For example, as I’m studying for the social psych comp, I’m reading a lot about identity measures specifically for transracial adoptees and bi/multi-racial individuals. This will be very useful in, not only comps but also, the identity research I’m interested in and dissertation work.  But, for now, my focus is primarily on successfully clearing this hurdle. Stay tuned.

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