Fed Up, Again (One Last Time)

As always in the middle of the exam period I’m now thoroughly fed up with studying. Usually I do take pleasure in learning new things, but by now it’s all about nauseating repetetion. After the Certified Tester exam last week I took the afternoon off, as in I researched some citations for the thesis. Yeah, that’s not actually “off”, I know. But it was a welcome change.

The next day (Friday), however, I returned to studying. Knowing the flashcards for IT security already more or less by heart, I browsed through a detailed, humorless, boring like hell–in short: thoroughly German–1,000 pages reference book and nearly despaired. Normally perusing a book shortly before an exam helps me to get things in perspective. This time the book–or maybe just this book–confused me even more. It was all minutiae and no perspective at all. But at least now I know where our professor’s lecture slides come from.

To annoy me even more, I started working on the two sets of slides for the official Certified Tester certification exam that had not been covered in the lecture. Afterall, the exam will be two weeks hence, and it’s over 200 more slides crammed with definitions. Even worse idea than the IT security book. I nearly threw up. The official slides for this exam are all vague, verbose, and repetitive, but the chapter on test management really takes the cake. It quite unnecessarily repeats a lot of the stuff from the other chapters, but with even more long-winded definitions that frequently contradict those offered earlier. The chapter on test tools is a bit less annoying in comparison, but still bloated. For instance, on three subsequent slides we get basically three subtly different summaries of the same steps to evaluate and introduce a new tool in an organization.

I forced myself to condense this nonsense on enough flashcards to learn a dozen or so new ones on each of the next days. But on the weekend I found I really couldn’t stand this right now. I wasn’t feeling too well in any case, and it was distracting me from IT security–even though I really didn’t know what else to do to prepare better for that exam either! So I limited the studying to a couple of hours a day on both Saturday and Sunday and vowed to myself I would never again torture myself and annoy my family with studying on the weekend. (And in fact whatever for, as this will be my last exam ever.)

Instead I cut our hedges, pruned some roses and our sour cherry tree, and miraculously managed to avoid hurting myself in the process. Which is fairly helpful, considering there are several things one can do to oneself with secateurs that would effectively prevent one from taking an exam a few days later. Particularly a written one.

That’s no joke by the way. For one thing, I have frequently found even small cuts in fingertips, if in just the right place, so insidiously painful it was hard to properly grip a tool or even button a shirt. For another, if for any reason I should be unable to take this final exam, the last one out of 24, it would a setback so bitter I find it hard to imagine. Remember that UAS offers no alternative dates for exams. There is only a single chance. I would lose a whole term in the last moment, after 3 years in which I put myself and my family through excruciating pains to stay on schedule. I would be unable to start working as a full consultant with my present employer, according to the contract I have already signed, for I would lack the necessary entry qualification. And I would have to take the exam in February 2019 with a different professor.

So in fact right now I am not just afraid of secateurs or getting sick. I am seriously afraid of riding my bike, particularly in the ruthless (for bikers) Hamburg traffic, and find myself taking more precautions than I usually would, having my lights on in broad daylight, wearing my helmet and a reflective vest all the time, and checking not just my front and sides but even my rear all the time. Just one inattentive driver in the next 72 hours and I could be in a hospital at 11 AM on Thursday rather than in BT7 writing the IT security exam.

On the other hand, if I survive the next three days in good health, I think I’ll be as well prepared as humanly possible. Today I met with three co-students at UAS, again in the meanwhile familiar room on the 13th floor. We were going through the lecture slides yet again, and while a few minor things cropped up that deserved clarification from a book, the internet, or the professor (who, I found, is quite quick in responding to questions), all in all it was extremely reassuring. Usually I was able to explain things to the others, which in turn made them clearer to me. If I fail, it certainly won’t be for lack of preparation.

In any case, right now I find it hard to force myself to study even more. As so often, I have a while ago passed the point where it can be of even marginal benefit. It’s more about staying sharp now, staying on track, not confusing myself with different things, like the Certified Tester exam. So I suppose I’ll have to suffer through a couple of days of mindless, boring, nauseating repetition, even though it’s kind of pointless. But what else is there to do?

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