Monday, December 31, 2012

Don't Panic: Exam Review Strategy

I've been reviewing for my upcoming exams. I have my Strategic Theory exam on Monday, 14th January, and I have my Strategic Intelligence exam on Wednesday, 16th January. The drawback is that I have to study for both up front, because a day and a half isn't enough of a gap to justify putting one off. The flipside is that my colleagues and I will have about two weeks between the end of exams, and the beginning of the second semester.

I've made a bit of progress during the time I've been in Aberdeen. As I mentioned back in September, none of the textbooks I read prior to arrival were the actual textbooks that would be assigned for the first semester. That'll help me next semester, as I've already read most of the books that I'll be assigned, but it means picking up the pace in the next couple of weeks. So, where am I at this point?

For Strategic Theory, I was "assigned" Strategy in the Contemporary World, Modern Strategy, and Modern Military Strategy: An Introduction, with the acknowledgement from The Director that reading all of these and the various articles in the syllabus ("course guide") is impossible. The Director also keeps PDF files of "clippings" - articles that he's clipped from newspapers and magazines over the years and scanned. There's also the matter of reviewing the slide decks that The Director and my fellow Strategists have presented on the various topics we've discussed. At this point, I've finished Modern Military Strategy: An Introduction, though I plan to do a bit of review of some of the key sections. The next book on the docket is Modern Strategy, and I hope to finish it next week. I think Strategy in the Contemporary World will have to be saved as a reference for next semester - triage, if you will.

As for Strategic Intelligence, the recommended textbooks are Secret Intelligence: A Reader , Intelligence Power in Peace and War , Intelligence in an Insecure World , and Intelligence in War. I finished Intelligence Power in Peace and War - one of the densest books I've ever read in my life - on Friday. At some point prior to the exam, I'll go back through it and type up the end-of-chapter summaries to study from. As I just mentioned, my next reading choice is Modern Strategy. Assuming I finish that up, my next read will be Intelligence in an Insecure World. I'll also need to review the slide decks from the various presentations by E and the other Strategists. That means that Secret Intelligence: A Reader and Intelligence in War will probably be sacrificed as well.

It's a lot - a lot of work to do, and a limited time to do it, but exams and regurgitation of minutiae into a booklet have always been some of my greatest academic strengths. It's time for a strong push in these last couple of weeks to make sure I'm prepared to demolish whatever The Director and E decide to put in front of me on the 14th and 16th, respectively. After that, it's time for some well deserved rest and relaxation.

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