Friday, December 06, 2013

Post mortem on IBR2 exam

I went to bed early last night, in a poor state of mind. I was depressed about the IBR3 exam, it was raining again and a sore had developed on my tongue (probably as a result of tension). But something must have happened during the night, for I awoke in a much more positive mood. It was still raining lightly when I took the dog out for her morning walk, but for once, the rain didn't affect me.

As today is Friday, the train timetable is slightly different; the train to Tel Aviv left 25 minutes later than it does on a weekday, which meant that I arrived at the office where the exam was being held about 25 minutes later than yesterday. Not that this mattered, as the building was locked! I wandered around outside, meeting someone who was also taking an exam. Eventually someone let us into the building (at around 9am), but the office itself was locked. At 9:20am, a young man arrived who unlocked the office, let us in and administered the exam.

A quick look at the exam paper showed that I was in for a surprise again. Whilst the first part of the exam was the same as always (look at the literature synthesis, show its strengths and weaknesses), the second and third questions were entirely different, questions which I had never seen before.

Even the first question really was different, as the literature synthesis started off with a statement then went on to delineate four different functional relationships (normally there are many statements and only one functional relationship). There were a few stock answers to write down: too few references, mixing academic references with anecdotal material, too few definitions - but then I really got into it, writing a four page essay in just under an hour. I won't go into exactly what I wrote for as it's meaningless on its own, but I think that I did well on this question.

The second question was an extension of the first: in light of your answer for question 1, what would you advise the candidate to do? How should she change the orientation of the research? Which orientation would you choose? At first, this wasn't too clear: I wrote about three paragraphs (about how the research at present was too wide - one functional relationship is enough! - and which relationship I would choose to research) but after that couldn't think of anything to write. I left a blank page and went on to the third question ...

Which was a real gift! Describe any difficulties which may arise between the candidate and the supervisor during the literature synthesis stage. This question reminds me of when I was learning the highway code for the theory part of my motorbike license: I was advised to read the section about driving on the motorway. But why, I asked: a learner isn't allowed on a motorway. True, I was told, but this shows that you have read the entire highway code. As it happens, I glanced at chapter 2 yesterday, which talks about the candidate and the supervisor, but thought that this wasn't examination material. As one of the lecturers once told me, everything is examinable.

So I wrote two pages on difficulties which might arise: time problems, geographical problems, communication problems, etc. This was fun to write and also hard to get wrong.

Answering this question improved my mood and had started the mental juices flowing, so I had no difficulty going back to the second question and adding another page and a half. I discussed all the functional relationships which the candidate had raised and all the associated problems arising from each one. I even managed to get in a jab about the MBA programme.

As is my habit, I had finished the exam after just over two hours: I checked the answers to see if I had missed out any words and whether there was anything add, but I think that the sole addition was an arrow. I think that I did quite well on this exam, as opposed to IBR3.

So what's next? I should get the results by the end of January; if I passed both exams, then I can begin working on the research proposal as defined in IBR1. If I have failed one (or both), then I can resit in June, but won't have anything to do until May, which is when I should start revising. So after a few days of cleaning my head, I'm going to refresh my memory regarding the research proposal and even start writing it. I've been waiting for this for nearly two years and it's about time that I got started on it.

This morning I had the time and mental space to notice the surroundings of the office block. Apart from several cafes and a few odd shops (the bottom floor of the office block contained a kitchenware shop), I also noticed a 'hotel' that rented out rooms on an hourly basis, a striptease joint and a peep show place. All of these buildings (except for the cafes) were empty and forlorn on a wet Friday morning. Presumably the action heats up in the evening.

[SO: 3088;2,11,29]

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