One milestone on the path to the Ph.D. is a qualifying exam. This can come in a few flavors, but the dominant one in technical degrees is a means of confirming that the budding Ph.D. candidate has full command of the undergrad curriculum in their field – so, in my case, in electrical engineering.
These are, typically, a source of stress, as folks flip out over being able to continue in their program given these exams. What have I been doing to study up?
Understand the structure of the exam. I looked a the previous exams folks had, and that the department had distributed, and understood what the problems in my focus area (Circuits, in this case) looked like.
Armed with this, I looked at the undergrad and first-year graduate curriculum for this material – in our case, a bunch of classes I hadn’t taken, as my background is in applied physics.
Then, hammer. There’s really no shortcuts here, so blocking out time and being very careful about keeping my brain health and active to be able to study effectively was paramount. Having the time to do this – I’ve been at it since the beginning of the semester – is also key.
None of the above is really mind-bending stuff, but a focused and deliberate approach here should help insure success. I hope.