Preparing for the Easter Vacation

With the Easter vacation fast approaching and exams following closely behind, it’s time to start thinking about revision. The breadth of material in the courses can often be daunting so a clear revision plan is an important tool to get the most out of the vacation. Without a strategy, the time is easily wasted.

In this week’s Wednesday meeting, we all had a chance to talk to the students from other year groups so that we could share our knowledge and learn from the experience of everyone else. The Part 1A students are of course new to Cambridge exams so they had plenty of questions that could be answered by everyone else. We also had James, the only Part III CompSci at Queens’, who could share his wisdom with everybody.

Since every year group is in a different stage of the Tripos, we all had different questions. Below is a summary of the best advice heard from the point of view of each year group.

Part 1A

The Part IBs and James (Part III) talked to the first years about their up and coming exams. Seeing as this will be the first time we sit any Cambridge examinations, the discussion was particularly useful and gave us a good insight in to what to expect and how to prepare for them. Finding a balance between revising all of the modules in both computer science and our bench subject will be extremely important over Easter vacation, but it was nice to be told we’ll also have some time after the vacation to finish off revising if we need the time. We also learned that practising using past Tripos questions is just as important as making lots of notes, and so we should ensure we leave time to do that too.

Part 1B

The third years talked to the Part 1Bs about importance and relevance of some courses over others. They told us that Mathematical Methods, one of the Part 1B courses, is very useful for Part II, so even if it isn’t one of our favourite courses, we shouldn’t give up. Each year builds on the foundations and the knowledge laid down the year before so it’s always important to understand concepts fully and not merely memorise for the sake of exams. They also talked to us about choosing Part II projects. It’s important to start thinking about we’d like to do now and eventually choose something that we’re interested in because we’ll be investing a lot of time into it next year.

Part II

James (part III) discussed with the part IIs about the importance of balancing our revision and dissertation workload correctly. Although tempting to focus on perfecting the dissertation, as it is only worth 25% of our final grade, it makes more sense to focus on revising for the exams. Similar advice likely also applies to the part IAs who need to balance their revision for their bench-subjects, as well as Computer Science revision.