First, I suppose in addition to not particularly feeling like I’m twenty-eight, most other folks don’t think I’m that age either. Apparently I look like I’m about six or seven years short of that. Kind of funny, but whatever.
We had our first exam in world history today, and it was in a format that I don’t have much experience in, which made me a little nervous. All of my tests so far have been a mix of short answer, fill in the blank, and multiple choice. Even the most insane of tests I had in Japanese at Metro in the spring and summer, which drilled you in every possible aspect of the language and ruthlessly exposed every weakness you had, weren’t much more difficult than writing complete sentences.
(On a tangent, last week I aced my first Japanese test. Ever. This class is cookies and milk compared to what I’m used to, and in that respect I don’t think I’m getting my money’s worth from UNL. But anyways.)
Today’s test was a quick round of multiple choice/FITB, followed a long answer section requiring about a paragraph written about four terms, and then a two page essay. The study guide for the test was handed out a couple weeks ago, and it contained twenty possible terms for the long answer section and five possible essay questions. The material covers pretty much everything from the dawn of civilization up until around 250 BCE, so we’re talking about three millennia worth of material from Greece, China, Egypt, India, and the Middle East. It took literally until yesterday to finish my notes on the study guide because we were getting material that would be on the test in lectures up until the very last minute.
That’s actually not that big of a deal though, because I had no problem learning and remembering the material. The reason I was so anxious going in is that I’ve never particularly cared for writing essays. I sloughed them off in high school (which is why I’m sure my AP government teacher regrets letting me sign up for his class my senior year) and generally did my best to skirt them beyond high school as well. So to go from that to all of a sudden having to fire off a massive compare and contrast essay in a short block of time was a bit of a concern for me.
The end result?
Turns out all the time I’ve spent having literary diarrhea on my site really helped me to gather my thoughts and commit them to writing in a cohesive manner. The hardest part of the essay wound up being avoiding setting my hand on fire from writing so much so quickly, and I ended up writing a solid three page essay (outline, thesis statement, and conclusion included) in about twenty-eight minutes.
As for the quality of the writing itself, I won’t find out for at least a week or so. There are almost two hundred essays that need to be graded by two teaching assistants. But what I do know is what Tom Osborne used to say about the value of preparation, and why I think I did well: you win your Saturday games in practice on Tuesday and Wednesday. If you practiced well during the week, the final score tended to take care of itself. If you weren’t prepared, then there was no way you had a chance. I never hesitated on any of the questions, and the essay I wrote was coherent and viable (if not sloppily-written). In short, I blew the doors off this test days ago and I have high confidence that the score I get back will reflect that.
And now, it’s time for a sandwich.