Seminary Talk: How to make straight A’s in 2020!
Updated: Apr 5, 2021
Happy New Year guys!! Thank you for joining me in another #SeminaryTalk segment where I share information regarding my experience in seminary to help you navigate yours. Today I’m going to share a brief Storytime of how I went from making a D+ my first semester to making straight A’s. This is the tale of a young professional merging into the theological sphere with a lot on her hands, yet I ended up figuring out the best way to improve my grades and I hope you do to!
Brief Story-Time: I started the Master of Divinity program without any theological experience. Keep in mind, I received my undergraduate degree in Accounting and started my professional career as a financial auditor for over three years before seminary. Needless to say, I was out of touch with academia and only knew numbers to be my friends. Entering seminary was challenging because I was still working full-time and I was trying to develop a functioning school-work balance. My schedule was packed! My first semester classes comprised, the contextual education courses (internship & reflection class) along with a Church History class. To be totally honest, the church history class blew my mind because I wasn’t aware of the deep rich history. In my ignorance, I figured the Bible shed light on everything historical but that was furthest from the truth. With that being said, studying was sort of difficult because I didn’t know where to start. I was reading to memorize instead of learning the material. I didn’t join a study group until later in the semester after failing miserably. The exams were long and dreadful, and I ended up leaving the class with a D+. If I could do it over with these study tips, I would!
Tips that improved my grades
I suggest taking time to read the chapters in your textbook every day or at least once a week. Take one day to go over the questions at the end of the chapter and figure out the answers. This will help you understand the overall main idea of the chapter. Going over the questions at the end of the chapter can help with answering any type of question thrown at you during the exam. Generally, if you can answer an essay question, you should be able to answer short answer, multiple choice, or true false questions about the same subject.
2. Replay Lectures
I'm not sure if you’re school records the teachings, but this step will apply if they do. Going over the lecture recording is super helpful if you didn't understand a concept while your professor was teaching. Going back to the lecture allows you to slowly follow the conversation and outline where it is mentioned in the recommended textbook. I found myself gaining a deeper understanding of a topic by reviewing the lecture because sometimes it solidified my reading and answered most questions while studying.
3. Review past exams and quizzes
Ask your professor or teaching assistant (TA) for sample essay questions that may be on the exam. Sample essay questions assist in understanding the format or style of future test questions. When reviewing, make sure you can answer each part of the question with robust concrete details and learn how to write a strong thesis. Also, review past exams and quizzes you took in the class, this will allow you to prepare for similar questions in future exams.
4. Join a study group
I recommend this for everyone because it has helped me tremendously! However, it only works if you join a study group that is dedicated to getting the work done. There must be a plan set in place so you’re not wasting time hanging out and talking about nonsense instead of studying. I was a part of two study groups. One study group went over the study guide questions and the other was more detailed by going over the readings. At the end of the day, both study groups were focused on getting the work done and I felt like I understood the concepts more after studying and discussing with a group of other like-minded individuals. Best decision ever!
5. Pomodoro Technique
This has helped me a lot when studying on my own! It gives you an appropriate amount of time to focus on your task, then it allows an appropriate mini break in between studying. I suggest focusing 25 minutes on reviewing the study material or writing sample essay questions. Then spend five minutes walking around or doing a physical activity like push-ups or sit-ups. Spend your “five-minute breaktime” doing anything besides social media. I don’t recommend spending breaks on social media because those images may inhibit you from moving onto the next phase of studying. You may end up focusing on the next break to see what someone posted on Instagram. I find social media disturbs my concentration, which is one of the reasons why I deactivated it.
6. Get a planner!
Write down all test dates in your calendar as soon as you get your syllabus. Organizing your exam dates in your calendar will allow you to be more prepared for study sessions and other exam prep. Set study times and dates on your calendar so you can avoid procrastinating and being unprepared on test day.
Anyways, I hope these tips were useful for you! Overall, this will be our year of focus on making better grades. Let me know if these tips were helpful for you! Below are a few links I would like for to check out if you’re interested in the Pomodoro vid discussed, the video I created pertaining this blog post, and the video that inspired me to create this content.
Until Next Time,
**Peace & Blessings**, XOXO
Pomodoro Technique: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1znjHDiqBk8&t=5399s
Inspired me to create this content: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_IBtHZ93ry8