Sunday, May 23, 2010

My Qualifying Exam

I passed my qualifying exam. I actually took it two weeks ago but I just found out today that I passed it. I have a much longer explanation of the qual over at The Eternal Universe, but I just wanted to say something here that I did not mention there.

When I was preparing for the qual I was wondering what I should do to focus my studying. It was something that I was praying about and thinking about a lot. There are so many things I could study and look at that it would not be possible to look at them all, so I had the be selective in the things that I studied. As I was praying about this I got the impression that I should focus on the statistical mechanics portion of a book containing old qualifier problems from the University of Chicago. So I went to that portion of the Chicago book and looked it over and selected the problems that I thought could turn up on the test (I selected 17 of the 22 problems) and worked them out. As it turned out two of those questions turned up on the qualifying exam, and I was able to answer them easily.

The test was also spread over two days. Initially it was scheduled to be on Sunday and Monday the 9th and 10th of May, but the department secretary pointed out that Commencement was that Sunday and there would be several people in the building making noise and it would be hard to reserve a room. This prompted the chair of the qualifying committee to propose moving the first day of testing to Friday the 7th. I sent an email to him saying I would much prefer moving it to the Friday, so it was moved from Sunday to Friday.

Also, I was preparing for the test by studying with two other people, who were also taking the astronomy test like me. We had looked at many different things and we were finalizing our last minute studying. We had two tests on the Friday and four on Monday. So we planned to spend Saturday studying for the first two tests (stat mech and quantum) and then they wanted to spend Sunday studying for stars and high energy. I decided that even though it would help to study for stars and high energy some more as those were the two that I had not studied as much, it would be better for me to keep the sabbath and not to study. So I studied with them on Saturday and then on Sunday I went to church, had our home teachers come by and spent the day "resting" (i.e. worrying about my tests the next day). But when it came time for the tests, it turned out that everything that I was able to answer on the tests was stuff that I had already studied, or already knew, and thus it turned out that if I had studied on Sunday then that would not have helped me any on the two tests. It was such a good feeling to see a blessing of keeping the sabbath.


Tiffany said...

Good for you! We're happy for you!

Eliza said...

I've also seen similar blessings in my studies when I've tried to keep the Sabbath day holy.

Becky said...

Congratulations! We are so excited that you passed!