We’ll come back to our normal Monday Morning Book Reviews next week – this week I was way too busy with the holiday and studying for my oral exam to get any other reading done. With that in mind I thought I’d post about the stress that comes tomorrow in the form of an oral exam.

First, I’ve known about this since day one of seminary. It was right there in the handbook that an oral exam would be necessary as part of the graduation requirements. Even then I knew that I would be nervous about it; the thought of sitting with two or three professors and having them bombard you with questions from any area of study was/is nerve wracking.

Second, I’ve known several people who have all gone through the process. Some of them passed on the first time, but others were not so fortunate. The good news is that you will eventually pass – you may have to write a few additional papers along the way, but they haven’t ever prevented someone from graduating because of that. The other nice thing is that I’ve been able to discuss somewhat the process of the exam and while people are nervous, they all say that it’s not as bad as they thought it would be.

Third, once I know which professors I have I can focus my last day worth of study on what they might ask. Each prof has their own favorite issue that they want to make sure you know; so for example one professor places an emphasis on the role of women in ministry, so you’ll probably, most of the time, get a question along those lines. The trick is to know which professor you have and what their area of focus will be. Once you get that information you can just about study to those issues and should be okay.

Fourth, the exam is only thirty minutes. They have a lot of people to get through and they more want to make sure that you are competent to talk through an issue more than dissect every little point of doctrine. The rule of thumb seems to be: if you go between 30-45 minutes you probably passed, longer than that and you should probably keep your schedule open.

Fifth, I’ve had three-and-a-half years to prepare. I’m pretty good about being able to bring things to mind during a conversation from the Scriptures. My fear is knowing where everything is; I know it’s in there, but the address alludes me! That is one of the things that I’ve really been trying to nail down these last few weeks. As far as doctrine goes, I know what I believe and why, it’s just the giving the reference that concerns me.

Even though this experience is going to be grueling and difficult, I don’t need to worry. I’ve done my best to study and prepare; could I have spent more time? Sure, I could have spent time neglecting my family to make sure I have that last couple of references down cold, but that’s not worth it to me. I’d rather make sure my family is okay and getting what they need than cram more facts into my head. Don’t get me wrong, the facts are important, we’re talking about the truths of God after all! But if things don’t go as planned then that’s okay, I’ll just try it again next round.

Life is too short to stress out about much. I’m nervous, sure, but I’m secure in my salvation and nothing can change that (Rom 8:38-39)! I’ll post on Wednesday how it went.

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