Tomorrow at approximately 11:00 AM I will have my oral exam in Honors. Let me explain how it works: One by one, we are called into the professor's office. From a list of seventeen questions, he chooses two. We are then permitted to choose one of these two and speak on it for five minutes. This earns us 33.3% of our grade for the semester.
Oddly enough, I'm not really too nervous. I mean, every now and then I'll have a moment of freaking out about it, but in my rational moments I realize that I am ready for this. Six months ago I would have prepared for this test by memorizing word-for-word the answers to 16 of the questions. I started out this class planning beforehand what I was going to say during class discussions. After a week I was extemporizing in class, and a little voice in the back of my head was screaming at me, "What are you doing? Where are you getting this stuff? Where is this written down?" Since then the little voice has quieted. I have learned that the right way to participate in class is not to plan out beforehand exactly what I am going to say, but simply to know the material and see where things go from there.
That's what I'm doing for the final. I will be reviewing the questions and attempting to remember as much as possible, but I will not try to go into this exam with everything I am going to say planned out exactly. I know this material, I know how to construct an argument as I go along, I know that I will probably say things in the final that I come up with on the spot. And I'm okay with that, oddly enough.
Have I mentioned before that I really like Honors? At first this final seemed ridiculous to me, but now I see how it is the perfect ending to the semester. It is not the sort of final where you memorize names and dates, regurgitate them onto the test, and then forget them all by the next week. It is a test where you have to know how to intelligently discuss great literature. Everything I've been learning since August is helping me with this final. Last week (before I had studied much) I joked that I would just go in there and "fake it", relying on what I knew already, what had been impressed into my mind during the class, in order to answer whatever question I was given. Really, though, my joke was not so very far from the truth.