My graduate program selected a date for the comprehensive exams (the end of the spring semester) and I scheduled my praxis for the weekend after. While most people would consider this risky or overwhelming, I did this for several reasons (1) I wanted to be done with EVERYTHING academic related after finals so that I could truly celebrate my graduation with friends and family. (2) I wanted to hit the ground running with my licensure for prospective employment opportunities. (3) Considering the amount of preparation and mental/emotional effort I expend to prepare for these types of exams, I wasn't sure if I could put myself through that type of stress twice. It paid off for me as the info from the comps was still fresh in my head when I sat for the praxis that following weekend and had my licensure just in time for my first week of work!
When to Start Studying
Considering my hectic schedule and the importance of these exams, I knew that I could not afford to "cram" at the last minute. With the exams in April, I committed myself to study every Sunday a for 3 hours beginning in January. This way I could take my time and really master the concepts I needed to know while balancing a school and work schedule. It took a lot of discipline but really paid off in the end!
I found that studying in a small group was helpful to me when prepping for these exams. What made my group study experience so effective was:
(1) We kept it small and meaningful. This is not the time to study with someone just because they are your friend! Choose your study buddies wisely. If your current study circle does not contribute/enhance your academic performance don't fret! Just meet them for cocktails after your study session with those who do!
(2) We set a weekly schedule for study meetings (that lasted about 3 hours) during which one specific topic was covered (i.e. language development). These topics corresponded to chapters in the Hedge Praxis Comprehensive Exam book. We agreed the expectation was that everyone come to the session with materials and notes concerning the schedule topic, having reviewed it at least once already.
(3) We took turns leading the study sessions. This was nice because everyone got a chance to be an "expert" and share materials on her favorite topic. We created a folder on google drive and shared our materials this way. We also created practice questions, essay prompts and diagrams for each other to complete on our own and bring to the group session ready to review.
As the Binder Queen I did not disappoint and organized all of my materials by subject into a large 3 ring beauty complete with my other favs: dividers and sheet protectors. It included visuals, handouts and outlines from the group study sessions. I also took 1 of the 4 practice tests provided on the USB drive that accompanies the Hedge test prep book at the start of each month.
This allowed me to: (1) Practice taking the test in the actual format (e.g. time limit and question type (2) Zero in on my exact areas of weakness so I was not wasting time overloading my brain with stuff I already had down packed (3) Monitor whether I was actually making improvement or if I needed to tweak my approach. I highly recommend taking practice tests while studying for the praxis even if only to train your brain to focus and build your mental endurance!
I'm not going to lie to you. I was an emotional ball of nerves during my last semester of grad school. Between practicum, class, completing my research, working part-time and prepping for these exams, there were times I thought I was going to go off the deep end. Several things helped me get into a better frame of mind for both test days.
(1) Cut the negative talk and worry-wart conversations. I literally made a pledge to myself to only mention the praxis/comps if I was referring to how I plan to pass them. I also chose to surround myself with positive, optimistic folk who felt the same. Nervous energy is contagious!
(2) I found a relaxing activity (i.e. walking on the beach) to do after every study session to give myself a mental break.
(3) I went into what I like to call "The Bat Cave". I informed family and friends that my presence may be scarce and cut out my late night partying, unhealthy eating and weekend adventures in order to focus on the task in front of me. Act like you're training for the mental olympics and you're going for the GOLD.
In the end, I felt extremely prepared for both exams and was elated to pass both tests and graduate a month later as a
REAL LIVE SPEECH LANGUAGE PATHOLOGIST! IT WAS WORTH IT!