Comps tutorial 2013


Published on

VCU Department of Gerontology presents a comprehensive exam tutorial.

Published in: Education, Economy & Finance
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide
  • Are you feeling stressed? Exams can be very stressful, but the best way to alleviate the stress is to be prepared.
  • The first step in preparation is to gather information. It will be important for you to understand the expectations. The COMPS EXAM is a comprehensive examination of the 6 core classes from Gerontology. Social; Problems, Issues and Trends: Psych.; Biology; Research Methods; and Aging and Human Values. It is a timed exam, you will have 2 hours to complete. The exam is short answer / identification / definitions. Preparation really begins with the first class, however, you need to think about how much time you will need to prepare. This may different for everyone. Some of us started to prepare 6-8 months out, others about 3. There is a lot of material, so think about the best way to pace yourself.
  • The first step in preparation is to gather information. It will be important for you to understand the expectations. The COMPS EXAM is a comprehensive examination of the 6 core classes from Gerontology. Social; Problems, Issues and Trends: Psych.; Biology; Research Methods; and Aging and Human Values. It is a timed exam, you will have 2 hours to complete. The exam is short answer / identification / definitions. Preparation really begins with the first class, however, you need to think about how much time you will need to prepare. This may different for everyone. Some of us started to prepare 6-8 months out, others about 3. There is a lot of material, so think about the best way to pace yourself.
  • Once you are clear about the expectations, you can begin to set the structure for study. Think of the preparation for Comps as though it were a class. Come up with a timeline – for example – if you are taking Comps in April, perhaps you will begin to create your TIMELINE the previous October. You might spend October – December reviewing all the slides from all of the classes. Then, you may spend January reviewing all the texts and notes. Perhaps is Feb. you begin to create a study guide; then flash cards, and by March 1 you may want to begin taking practice tests. You may decide to spend one hour per night; or, perhaps you will spend 4 hours per day of the weekend. Whatever works for you. The important thing is to carve out the time, and stick to it. If you have prepared study guides for each class you are ahead of the game. If you are just starting out, prepare a study guide for each class!
  • Consider your resources – class notes – study guides - if you are an on-line student, some of the classes offer “scribes” – these in-classroom folks have taken notes for everyone – pay attention to these. The power point slides from each class are invaluable – consider the over-lap in themes. Talk to fellow students, perhaps form a study group. If there are concepts you do not understand ask for help. If you are having a great deal of trouble, speak to your advisor and seek tutoring. What other resources can you think of?
  • Begin by simply reviewing everything before organizing the information. Go over all of the material slowly, to refresh your memory. Get clarification for concepts you don’t understand. Highlight important terms, definitions, concepts, and theories. - such as Continuity Theory; Gerotransendence; Diabetes. Remember the demographics!
  • Begin by reviewing your study guides – you may want to organize the study guides by subject. By now, you have reviewed all of the information and you want to be sure you have collected all the important terms, theories, demographics, etc. from each class. Remember, don’t get too caught up in the deep deep digging, but focus on key terms and concepts. Don’t forget about the big picture. If you were at a community meeting on aging, how might you address the group as a Gerontologist? What facts would be important to know? There are some terms and themes that overlap throughout the course work – pay attention to these. Remember, definitions should be about 3 sentences or so – what is it and why is it significant?
  • Did you ever use flash cards to study for a test? It’s an old idea but a good one! Flash cards can be a great way for you to test your knowledge and skills and to work with study buddies to help them test theirs. We know students who made flashcards on index cards and carried them around with them to study wherever and whenever they had a few moments. You can even buy flashcard decks which are ring bound, with different color index cards if you like this traditional approach. For those of you who enjoy technology, there are apps out there to help you create your own flashcards. One of these is called Flash Card Machine, a free app available at which allows you to create and share web based flash cards. There is a downloadable app which allows you to do this on your iPad, iPhone, iPod touch or Kindle. So whether you favor the old fashioned or the modern approach, consider flash cards when assembling your comps study strategy. They may be the key to your success!
  • Having an electronic study guide means you can manipulate it and organize/re-organize it as you like. You can alphabetize terms, organize them by class or subject, create date timelines, lists of key names etc. This can be a very helpful way of studying the material from different angles, giving you a chance to practice the thoroughness of your knowledge. A sound answer on the comprehensive exam includes the following information: who, what, when, why (is this information relevant) and how (is this information applied). So, for example, you would want to be able to give the name of a theorist, the name of the theory, the date it was developed, its relevance to practice (remember, gerontology is an applied science so this is critical) and how it is applied. Taking this further, you might cite Lars Tornstam as the Swedish sociologist who developed Gerontranscendence theory in 1989 in response to heavy criticisms of Cumming and Henry’s Disengagement theory and that gerontranscendence is characterized by older adults showing decreased interest in material things and an increased ability to transcend time and space boundaries as they near the end of their lives, seeking healthy ‘alone time’ for inner reflection. There are important applications of this theory in the care of older adults, like not confusing gerotranscendence with depression and balancing the prevailing wisdom that social engagement and activity is always beneficial with this need for quiet reflection. This answer would demonstrate to the examiners that you really understand gerotranscendence theory, including where it comes from and why it is relevant. You can learn a lot from classmates. You may be part of a study group or have found a ‘study buddy’ with whom you can swap study guides and test each other. You are each likely to have different strengths so you can complement each other’s skill building. Be aware of the subject areas or terms/dates/theory authors where your grasp is weaker. That will be a different area for each of us and you should practice more in these areas to ensure you can reliably define terms and explain theories. Don’t shy away from these areas – practice them more!
  • We’ve already said it a number of times but it bears repeating – practice makes perfect and practicing in a way that emulates the exam itself is an important part of your success. Going through several dry runs in advance of taking the actual exam can be a great way to mentally prepare yourself for how it will feel, on the day, when you are sitting for your comps. One of the best ways of doing this is to administer a practice test to yourself – or even better, do this in your study group with your study buddies. Randomly select 40-50 terms and then set a timer for 2 hours. Sit at a computer and define each term using the advice we gave earlier about what a complete answer looks like. You may be surprised at how fast the time goes. Give yourself at least one ‘time check’ midway through the exam to see if you are on track. Some students have found that it is the time limit on the exam that is more challenging than remembering the material, so getting used to the time constraint is an important part of your success strategy. If this seems overwhelming, start by administering mini practice exams to yourself. These could be just 30 minutes long so that you get the hang of what it feels like to sit for the exam. If you experience test anxiety, don’t beat yourself up about it. Test anxiety can be mild or it can be quite overwhelming. If you find that the practice tests don’t alleviate your anxiety about taking the comps, don’t hesitate to seek help from a loved one, counselor or doctor. There is help available if you need it – and for some this may be an important part of your test preparation strategy. Taking practice tests is also a great way to highlight areas where you still need to practice or you need to revisit your knowledge of a subject area, a theory or some other term. Keep working on strengthening those areas, as you back off on areas where you know your knowledge is now rock solid.
  • It is probably a good idea to draw a line in time after which you will not study further. That might be the day before or the evening before the exam – whatever works for you. You will benefit from clearing your mind and reassuring yourself that you know this material, so you can just relax. Get a good night’s sleep the night before. Minimize excitement and distraction and try to have a relaxing evening so you can wake refreshed and ready to go. Plan ahead with regard to travel so that you arrive 20-30 minutes before your exam start time. Allow for traffic hassles so you do not end up rushing or getting anxious. If you are prone to butterflies or test anxiety, be kind to yourself. Remind yourself that you know this material, you are ready to show it and then picture how good it will feel when you receive your pass mark! Take a deep breath and get ready to knock the socks off the examiners!!!
  • Once you have taken the exam there will be a period of up to several weeks while it is graded and before you will receive your result. Try to relax during this period – worrying will not speed up your results. You are likely to feel an immediate or a more gradual sense of relief that you have taken the exam – enjoy that! It is important to remember that the honor code obliges you to keep the contents of the exam confidential. You should not divulge contents of the exam to students who have not yet taken it. In the unlikely case that you do not pass the first time, you will have another opportunity to take the exam. We recommend that you take the exam the first time like that is your only opportunity to pass, rather than using the first time as a practice run. But if you do not pass the first time, don’t panic! Seek the guidance of the Gerontology Department about where you need to strengthen your performance and follow their advice. You can do it!
  • Comps tutorial 2013

    1. 1. COMPREHENSIVE EXAM TUTORIAL August 2013 J. James Cotter, Tracey L. Gendron, Jenny Inker, Ellen Phipps Department of Gerontology, School of Allied Health Professions, Virginia Commonwealth University
    2. 2. PRESENTERS Ellen Phipps, CTRS VP Programs & Services Alzheimer’s Association. CWVA VCU Gerontology 2013 Jenny Inker, MBA, LALFA Executive Director Chambrel at Williamsburg VCU Gerontology 2013
    3. 3. Stress? What Stress?
    4. 4. GETTING STARTED 1. BE PREPARED! 2. Know what to expect 1. How many questions? 2. How much time? 3. Exam format. 3. Preparation for the exam begins with the first class 1. How much time will you need to prepare? 2. 6 months? 3. 3 months?
    5. 5. Tracey Gendron Answers the Exam’s FAQs
    6. 6. Here are the instructions:Here are the instructions: Define or brieflyDefine or briefly identify 45 of the following 55 names, items, or concepts. There areThere are 5 mandatory questions and of the remaining 50,and of the remaining 50, you choose which 40 to answer.. The exam is one of andIDENTIFICATION DEFINITION Citations to research should be used throughout the examination but you do not have to compile a reference list. This is an essential part of your response and is heavily weighted. This has been the difference between students doing well and students failing the exam. You must answer 5 mandatory questions correctly and at least 32 others correctly to pass (80%).
    7. 7. . You should know the major theories in Gerontology and their theorists!
    8. 8. Dr. Cotter’s Study Strategy:  Get with a group and quiz one another.  Practice with a timer. From your study guide, which should probably be 30-50 pages, randomly select 45 items and practice identifying them in 2 hours.  Be aware of the time constraints. The two hours works out to be about 2.5 min per identification. Don't get bogged down!  My strategy would be to pick the low hanging fruit, get the basics down on them, and then find the remainder that you need.  Make one pass through the exam answering as many as possible as rapidly as you can. Don't dwell on the ones you don't know or unsure of. Once you determine how many you have answered, go back and take a stab at the ones you are unsure of.
    9. 9. TIMELINE AND GOALS  Create a timeline with deadlines  Set aside specific study times and schedule and stick to it  Consider meeting with a study group
    10. 10. GATHER INFORMATION RESOURCES:  blackboard  notes – study guides  text books  fellow students  professors  tutors  other?
    11. 11. GATHER INFORMATION  Review of texts  Review PowerPoint slides  Review notes  Organize material by subject  Ask questions!
    12. 12. STUDY STRUCTURE  Create a study guide by subject  Key terms and definitions  Theories – author, year, significance  Don’t forget the basics  Think of big picture  Overlap of themes
    13. 13. Examples of Excellent Answers:
    14. 14. Examples of Excellent Answers: Depression Alcoholism Suicide
    15. 15. FLASH CARDS • An old idea but a good one • The traditional way • The modern way –
    16. 16. USING YOUR STUDY GUIDE • How to get the best out of your study guide • What good answers look like: who, what, when, why and how • Learning from others • Focusing on your development areas • Practice makes perfect!
    17. 17. PRACTICE TESTS •Practice like you mean it •Get a feel for the timing •Manage your test anxiety •Focus on your development areas
    18. 18. PREPARING FOR THE BIG DAY  No last minute cramming  Get a good night’s sleep  Eat before the test  Plan your travel so you arrive in time  Bring a watch to pace yourself better  Go to the bathroom before walking into the exam room  Manage your attitude
    19. 19. POSTPOST TESTTEST • Waiting for your resultsWaiting for your results • Respect the confidentiality of the examRespect the confidentiality of the exam • Review the options if you need to re-takeReview the options if you need to re-take the examthe exam
    20. 20. THINK POSITIVELY!!