Comps, round two

I’ve got to pack myself up to drive to my History comp in an hour or so (with enough time to allow for a bathroom stop, a little leg stretch and quick look at my notes and essays to calm down), but I just finished reading the post I wrote before the last round of comps in November. I passed those (passing is somewhere around 60%, I think? I can’t remember if it’s 60 or 69%, but regardless, not A-quality scores). The difficulty in walking into a big test like this (and this one is 2 hours instead of one like last time) is that the confidence is absent. Studying for tests throughout my life has been about shooting for the A, the “100% – Awesome!” marking, the evidence of my mastery. So going into a test that covers so much, knowing that I won’t get 100%, it’s hard to gauge where 60% falls. I’ve never studied for 60% before. It feels risky to admit it. There’s a good chance I’ll pass at least most of today’s test (I think that there’s a possibility of retaking the part that doesn’t go well, if it comes down to it, rather than taking the whole thing again), so that gives me some confidence, but it’s banking on a lot. I’ve listened to SO much classical music in the last few weeks, even into the month-plus range (yeah, didn’t really get started early like I hoped I would). My brain is fried with classical music, but I am recognizing some of the big works and remembering things about them and their time period. It’s enhanced my public radio listening a lot…I think about what time period it sounds like, who might have written it, and what the ensemble would have been. I’m wrong just about every time in that regard (with the exception of a broadcast of La traviata I caught one day) because they tend to play the obscure solo and ensemble works I don’t study, but I can detect baroque versus classical (mostly instrumentation and orchestration), classical versus romantic, and there’s even a slight amount of discrimination in my ear for 20th century and beyond. But that era is mostly painful to listen to, so I don’t enjoy as much of it (i.e. Berg’s Wozzeck and Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire…wow).

I’ve worn the burden of this comp externally. I think I did for the last one as well. I only have two more if I pass today’s and think that I will be VERY glad to put the test-taking behind me. I don’t enjoy the stress of writing papers and finishing projects, but I have confidence in my performance when it comes to generated work (I can look up the answers, I can invest more time!). Tests…so much unknown stuff and such a limited amount of time…what essay questions or terms will I have to recall, what 20 music examples from all of western music will be chosen for a drop-the-needle test (with 30 seconds for each track. ack!).

If it’s any consolation, after a week of car trouble and rain and wind and cold, today appears to be the sunniest, prettiest day we’ve had in a week or two, and the birds woke me up this morning with their singing-sweet music indeed. I hate to wish away days and parts of my life, so I try not to look forward to the future too much, but I will be glad to walk out of that room and perhaps take a turn around campus for some spring afternoon enjoyment! And then maybe a run. I haven’t gotten out since last Sunday.

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