[light, poppy intro music]
B: Hello everyone, and welcome to our sixth episode of Better Late than Fresher, the wonderful fortnightly podcast where we check in with our fresher student Cohen and see how he’s going with his university experience, and pass down a little bit of knowledge, and a bit of wholesome advice from generation to generation. This week I sound like I have been hit by truck with my voice! So first off I apologize! Second of all, Cohen and I have a very special guest in the studio with us this time, who I’ve brought in. Do you want to introduce yourself, special guest, before we start off?
CP: Sure thing! I’m Cormac, I’m [Pelican’s] politics editor, I have questionable levels of experience with politics but managed to make it through an undergrad and I’m studying honours this year so I have a lot to impart.
B: Now I think studying honours in politics would be enough experience for Cohen, as he’s a baby first year politics student!
CA: I need all the help I can get! [laughs]
B: He needs all the help he can get.
CP: As someone whose bludged their way through first year exams, I can impart some knowledge.
B: So you’re doing honours in politics.
CP: I am indeed! I’m writing about inter-Korean relations, and so I get to freak out about news headlines every 48 hours! [laughs]
B: I was gonna say, with the amount that that’s changing at the moment…
CP: I tried to thesis-proof my topic. I thought I would pick something that Donald Trump won’t mess up and I think I’ve done the exact opposite!
B: You’ve gone and done the exact opposite! So I brought Cormac in today to give Cohen a bit of exam advice because he’s got his very first exams!
CA: I’m going into my very first exams and have no idea what to expect!
CA: So I have one exam- it’s like multiple choice, and then two essays.
CP: Is this POLS1101?
CA: Of course.
CP: Does it still have the awful essay on John Stuart Mill’s ‘On Liberty’?
CA: [pained] MMMMMMHMMM. We had to live through that…
CP: Life has not changed…
B: So before we get to the general chat about uni, I’ve asked for Cormac, or given Cormac the task to think of 3 to 5 fun facts, or useful facts, for a baby first year politics student doing their first exams.
CA: Oh wow.
CP How fun! I mean, I was given the task of 3 to 5, and I came up at 3. So 3 out of 5, so I hit the minimum!
B: Hit the minimum, the minimum limit!
CP: I think that’s just a microcosm of how I structure my exam prep. You know do the minimum and hope the rest comes to me as I go!
CA: Sounds like it did you some good though.
CP: Like, we got there in the end.
B: You’re doing fine so…
CP: Yeah I’m doing fine.
B: You’re someone who can look up to right? Right? That’s why I picked you and I asked you to come?
CP: I think that’s the first time anyone’s ever said that! [laughs] I think 90% of the time I was in the Tav first year, using up my time.
CA: Already there.
B: Cohen’s eyes just lit up when Cormac said that. So what’s your first of advice?
CP: My first bit of advice is that the politics department isn’t that original with their questions. When you actually think about the essay questions that they going to ask you, they usually come straight from the set of major essay questions you would have been allowed to pick. And they’ll essentially say something like ‘Pick something that you didn’t write about before, and then write about it’ and rehash the same questions.
CP: So that would be my first big bit of advice- it is uncanny how much you will be given. I assume… did you guys have to write a major essay with 1101?
CA: Yeah we did.
CP: How many question options were there?
CA: There was 3 questions.
CP: And you wrote one of them?
CP: I would assume you should prep the other two [laughs, waiting for realisation] And you said there’s two major essays in the exam?
CA: Yeah… [realising] OOHHHHHHH! THE MATHS!
CP: We’ve just done some incredible maths. Who says that art students aren’t good at math? [laughs} Yeah, that one of the things they do a lot- and they’re not that original.
B: And that continues through every single topic as well. Like, when I was doing my Econs undergrad, they were just not that original! They’re people and they have limited amount of time to juggle between teaching and home life- they’re not going to spend hours writing a new exam!
CA: Actually he did put it under the other day! We had a revision lecture, doing questions and the lecturer put the exam up, and he was like ‘I’m not going to put it up on the projector!’ But then he forgot the lecture capture system would capture the entire exam as he was flicking through it, so he had to rip it out an rewrite the entire thing.
B: Oh no!
CP: Oh my god.
B: Have a look at that exam though. If you can get screen grabs of it and see what he had previously planned, that will give you a good idea.
CP: Because some lecturers will do that. They’ll be like, ‘Oh, you know, I put this up!’ or a past exam paper will be on LMS and someone will have seen it and they’ll go ‘Oh! I’m going to write a new one.’ They’re lazy, they’re not going to write a new one, they’re going to reuse old questions.
CA: Oh my god, psychology.
CP: Lecturer’s just don’t have enough time!
B: Alright, what’s tip number two?
CP: Two is having some kind of stats or evidence in your back pocket that you can use basically to argue two sides of the same point. Which is good, because these lecturers, when they’re marking, they love when you’re able to throw in some actual facts in there and you’re not just repeating things that they’ve already said to you. So for instance, you can talk about ‘Oh, there’s been tons of growth in trade in Asia’, to argue that Asia is destined for war, and that Asia is destined for peace. You can say ‘Growing relationships between China and South East Asia means they’re really co-operative’, or it means that China’s going to screw everyone over economically and we’re going to have to go to war. Having some hard numbers to throw at that really…
B: If you couldn’t tell, Cormac really loves Asian politics… [laughs]
CP: Wow. Wow.
B: Cormac’s just really into that!
CP: God I’ve revealed my entire personality in like ten sentences. This is really disappointing. But yeah, you can throw that both ways really. And lecturers froth it.
CA: That’s awesome!
CP: Yeah, so on anything really! It really depends.
CA: I feel so good about myself right now.
B: Getting politics students to use numbers.
CP: Wild right?
B: Blows them right out of the water.
CP: We don’t know how to use numbers.
B: Chuck a number on the page? [explosion sound]
CP: I reckon that’s it. Anything that says trade figures, it’s just like…
B: Make up a figure! Make up a percentage amount! Just be like ‘GDP has increased by… 32%!’ [explosion sound] They wouldn’t know!
CP: You don’t need to reference it, you can just say words!
CA: Oh my god.
B: Aren’t exams just all words though?
CP: I would say that that’s correct.
B: Alright, number three.
CP: Number three I would say is having an opinion. And that sounds really trite and really obvious, but I’m sure you might have even noticed it from your tutes, plenty of people roll their way through a politics major and just don’t form an opinion on anything. The way to stand out in a sea of god knows how many essays that these people are going to have to read is to have a well defined opinion and argue it properly. I mean, I’m sure you have tutes where people go ‘Oh, I read this thing about China! That’s… crazy!’ And its like, if you can actually take the things you’re learning and apply it to the real world, read some news, read a bit broader and then have an opinion and really go with it – that’s the absolute key from differentiating an absolutely average politics essay, of which there are plenty, from ones which are actually quite good.
CA: Ok you just kind of called me out there… because that’s what I do! Like, ‘Oh, in the readings he said this! Isn’t that cool!’ And my POLS tutor is like ‘Again, yes Cohen… someone else?’
CP: Inadvertently I pulled you up to this high bracket and so called you out.
CA: I’m the one you just attacked! We could get up there somehow.
B: When’s your first exam?
CA: I don’t know off the top of my head… but that’s bad, isn’t it?
B: Oh yeah, that’s probably bad. You should probably check it out.
CA: I did know! But yeah that’s all… I will find out.
CP: On that note, those kinds of discussions and debates you’re having in tutes are used for short answers and multi choice, they just love. They’re not creative! They break down the tutes and then turn them into actionable multi choice things.
B: That’s actually a very good point. Pay attention to your tutes, because they set out questions in tutes and are working through them for when you get to the exam. More often than not, I found myself being like ‘Shit, that was a tute question from Week Two!’ or ‘That was a tute question that we went through!’ or, you know, they use them exactly.
CP: And it sounds dumb, but it makes a lot of sense. They walk through topics systemically and break down the content of the unit and convert it into questions! An examination, some would say, is a assessment of the unit course.
B: It’s a systematic breakdown! Incredible idea!
CP: But yeah, that’s exactly it. Same way that Bridget is right, you kind of get to the end and go ‘why haven’t I prepped this?’
B: And all of the politics exams are closed book right for undergrad, yeah?
B: So you gotta get it all in the dome.
CA: All in the dome! That’s a phrase, all in the dome!
CP: Some of them will fluctuate a bit. I think for POLS1101, it’s very much like remember people’s names, what they thought and stuff like that. Whereas POLS1102, Samina Yasmeen just wanted to quiz you on fun facts. You know, ‘where was the headquarter of the African Union?’
CA: Oh that’s my jam! I love that!
B: There you go!
CP: Because it really goes back and forth. But it all comes straight from the tutes.
B: You’ll smash it.
CP: I don’t think it’s anything of a shock really. First year exams are just weird in there’s multiple choice, so a part of it is don’t stress! Some of them can be very easily guessed!
B: You know it has to be one of the four answers on there! You just have to guess which one is most correct!
CP: Wow! That is, in fact, how multiple choice exams work! I think one of the other things that are quite interesting-not necessarily political, kind of politics major based things – but doing your first set of exams is weird at UWA. Because you have… just the sheer amount of paper that you need to fill in quite literally at the start of every exam is ridiculous.
B: Oh yeah true!
CP: So you’re going to be given about four, to maybe, some exam you manage six, piece of paper.
B: You have to sign your life away. You have to put down your name and student number a million times… the date, your exam, where you’re doing it, and write that piece of information about five, six times over.
CA: You’re serious?
B: And you leave about 15 minutes from the start of the exam, where the old 70 year old crusty invigilator comes along and, you know, watches you. You have to put the exact room number, and she writes it up on the whiteboard, and you have to write it down absolutely to make your sure you’re in the right place.
CP: And it’s stressful. I remember the first time I did it, I was like ‘Oh my god, is the exam going to start and am I going to be finished writing this all down? The same information, every time, but you’re like ‘I’ll know that two doesn’t look like a two…
B: I’m going to fail because of this!
CP: It’s quite stressful but it’s so fine! You don’t expect it! You’re not ready for it.
B: By third year you just like walk in and go ‘Let’s go, bitches.’ You’ve done a million times…
CP: You’re ready, you’re ready to go. You’re smashing out this paper.
B: And you also get the suckers that come in late as well.
B: They’re fun to watch. So like, the exam’s started, you’re 5 minutes in and someone will run in or they just found somewhere to park and are completely late and it’s just hysterical. I mean, I feel bad for them, I do.
CP: I do as well. But the invigilators give them the dirtiest look you’ve ever seen
B: Oh it’s dirty. You’ve killed the cat.
CP: You’re an insult to their existence.
CA: Oh my god, I’m terrified.
B: How dare you be late?
CP: Yeah, don’t be late.
CA: I’ll be there an hour early.
B: We’ll tell all the freshers listening… any fresher listening, sit out the front for an hour before and wait. Don’t be late.
CA: Bring gifts.
CP: No, don’t bribe your invigilators! Also good advice?
B: Anything else you can think of Cormac?
CP: I’m just trying to think. What else kind of happens in exams? I think the last one is like… you’ve done Year 12 exams, so you know how this works, but when you open the paper don’t freak out! And the good thing about politics, which is a philosophy that I have adopted which probably isn’t the best – if you just write the things you think, and have basic levels of evidence to back it up, you’ll get a decent mark. It’s quite hard to fail a politics exam, unless you genuinely know nothing about the questions they ask.
B: Again, they’re going to be assessing you on stuff that they’ve taught! It’s very very rare you get a question to test you that’s just completely left of field. It’s always going to be on stuff you know. You just have to look at the question and try and link the question to the topic in your head and go, ‘Ah that’s what they’re asking me about!’ and then, there you go.
CA: If there’s a choice of questions, and one of them is quite left of field, is it more beneficial to do it or do a question you do well?
CP: I would say go with the ones you can do well. I mean, I’ve done far too many exams at this stage, and none of these markers and examiners are out to catch anyone out. They want this to be as easy for themselves as possible.
B: They want you to pass!
C: And they want you to tick the boxes they’ve left empty for you to tick. So I think the left of field questions are… they’re in there sometimes as a bit of bait for people who are really excited to take this fun question. I had an exam once that was talking about ‘Imagine if the United States nuked North Korea tomorrow, how would we deal with it?’ Don’t write that. That’s a terrible idea. Don’t pick those questions. Do you have any other random questions about things, specifically politics related or just exams?
CA: Does the fact that 450 billion children at our university do politics mean that its going to be easier to do better or worse?
CP: I think personally it’s easier to do better.
B: I agree.
CP: Especially if you’re someone whose one basic debating or critical thinking, and you can structure an argument well, it’s better. You’ve written someone with some basic knowledge of the world, you’ve written it well, and there’s plenty of people who won’t be able to hit that.
B: It gets harder as the pool gets smaller. As the pool gets smaller, its the more dedicated people that stick around, particularly during honours where Cormac is at the moment…
CP: [quietly] Yaaaaaaay…
B:… it’s all the people who want to do politics or write 15,000 words on politics, so they’re all going to want to do well. As opposed to a unit where there’s 1,000 people in there, there’s some people who don’t give a shit and some high achievers, and you can fit anywhere in between there.
CP: From 1101 and 1102, you just get people who do a major of all stripes. And it’s ‘I’m going to take a politics elective, I’ll just throw my hat in the ring!’
B: [loud] That was me.
CP: But then when you get to third year, or even honours, you find people who are, you know going to end up in government somewhere, or doing consulting or some crazy thing. And there I think… one of the things I think you figure out as you go through the major is that people specialise quite quickly. You know, sometimes that means learning a language, but sometimes that also just means that you just know a lot of stuff about that region. At base level, you should understand that you’re going to be doing fine! You’re already doing grand just as you are.
B: Do you want to move on to social stuff, general stuff?
CP: Oh hells yeah!
B: What’s happening in your world?
CP: I’ll just be over here for the chats.
B: Yeah that’s what it’s all about!
CA: Okay I need to employ both of you as social media advisors right now.
CA: St Cat’s gives over their Instagram to a student every week, and…
B: [excited] Have you been given it?!
CA: I have been given the Instagram!
CP: That’s amazing!
CA: So what are some candid shots that I should get?
CP: God that’s amazing… so much power, so much responsibility!
B: Can you involve all the dogs in any way?
CA: [emphatic] Oh yeah!
B: Because I feel like that’s important. Just all this week just do it as the dogs. Just photos of dogs. You have all dogs, turn it into Dogs of UWA or… look, do you need to be promoting St Cat’s? Is that…
CA: No, just student life. Like one post that got put up was one of my good friends doing a whip, and the caption was ‘Y’all mind if I hit that yeet?’
B: [disappointed] Oh no… [laughs]
CP: [disgusted, laughing] God! Crossing memes here! The whip and the yeet and the all that…
B: The y’all don’t mind if I… that’s a lot.
CP: How candid a take on student life is this supposed to be? Because there’s ‘student life’ and then there’s student life.
CA: It’s a tasteful blend of both.
B: Okay, so Cap S is going to be included on Wednesday… Wednesday is Cap S night? CA: Wednesday his Cap S night. The holy pilgrimage.
CP: See I’ve never even set foot in college my whole life, and I even I know about Cap S.
B: There you go.
CA: It’s an institution.
CP: It really is!
B: What are your next door neighbours saying?
CA: So we took one today which was just me in the library drinking out of my Keep Cup – which just so happened to match my outfit today.
B: And its a very tasteful looking Keep Cup- it’s beautiful, it’s black and white, it’s got kind of got a stained glass window pattern on it. It’s very nice and tastefully matched to your outfit.
CA: So it was me looking stressed, but still good, and the caption is ‘Tis the season.’ Because it’s exam season.
B: Tasteful. So, where to go from there… was that your first? How many are you expected to do?
CA: So it’s supposed to be one every day, or one every other day.
B: You can do one every day, easy! Social media mogul.
CP: If you haven’t gained a substantial amount of Instagram followers in this moment of spotlight, you failed.
B: You failed! So it’s not necessarily promoting the college. What else you could post.. a photo rubbing it into Tommy More that you won lip dub? Because, for everyone listening, I believe St cats won the Lip Dub that we mentioned last episode!
CA: We yeeted the Lip Dub.
CP: In fact, you yote the Lip Dub.
B: Straight across Stirling Highway.
CA: See, that’s the controversy on College row at the moment.
B: What? Whether the past tense of yeet is yeeted or yote?
CA: No no no no!
CP: That’s a really key controversy right there.
B: What is the controversy then?
CA: The controversy is the outcome of Lip Dub.
B: Why was it controversial?
CA: We deserved to win only…
B: [loud] Did they though… did they though?
CA: Don’t test me Bridget! We deserved to win, because our video was of a high standard and is very very good.
CP: It was fantastic, it was really really solid!
CA: Thank you!
B: What song was it to?
CA: Tonight Tonight by Hot Chelle Rae?
B: Okay yeah! Because you couldn’t tell us last time! You were holding back!
CA: Like, it is literally the best kept secret. Tommy More’s was exceptional as well- they did like an Aussie mashup.
CP: Who did the Ed Sheeran mashup?
CA: … St George’s did.
CP: Yeah it was not good.
B: Controversial opinions on air! Do.. do you want that to go on the record?
CP: Hells yeah. It was not good.
CA: I enjoyed them all, just because I live on College Row.
B: But you enjoyed yours the most?
CA: Yes I did.
B: And do people think that Tommy should have won instead of you?
CA: It’s 50/50.
B: Oof, okay.
CA: But I went to Tommy More the day after Lip Dub with a friend. I walked in there and my friend was like ‘Hey guys, this is Cohen!’ and they all go ‘Hi!’ and she was like ‘He’s from St Cat’s! And they will like [loud yelling] ‘Get out!’
CP + B: Oh my god! [laughs]
CA: ‘Get out of here!’ I’m sorry!
B: Who votes for Lip Dub?
CA: It’s RSD. Residential Students Department for Guild.
CP: We walked past there for a Pelican thing – me and Katie MacAlister, one of overlords – and the RSD people were having an absolute ball watching these, trying to decide. They were having so much fun!
CA: They have like extra points that they give up for certain things that you have to have in the video.
B: Oh really?
CA: Yeah. So the person who does is the best gets like more points.
B: Sorry everyone who’s listening to this… Cohen just did a little whip… [laugs]
CP: There was a character that had to be designated in every college video called ‘dirtiest whip.’ So like this person had to do a whip in the dirtiest possible way…
B: How does one do a dirty whip?
CP: What are the categories?
B: [confused] I feel like I’m too old for this Cormac. What is a dirty whip?
CA: No rhythm.
B: Ah, so me basically!
CP: Yeah, a Bridget, as they call it.
B: As they famously call it.
CA: So we took out that category with the dirty whip.
B: Were you the dirty whip?
CA: I was not the dirty whip. Tasha was the college dirty whip; she did a phenomenal job. One of the other points was every college had to have Pennywise in the video. So we had one of my good friends on exchange from Canada standing in her trackies…
B: [laughs] It’s Pennywise on an off day. It’s Pennywise on the weekends.
CA: Exactly! Whereas St George’s had the Pennywise in an elevator, trying to attack there lead in full regalia. And if you ever watch a Lip Dub, don’t focus on what’s going on in the foreground- it’s the background that’s funny. Like in St Georges one, there’s just one guy that’s dabbing off the screen…
CP: I remember that! He’s just really stepping forward, he’s just like a robot, dabbing left and right with every stride.
CA: Yeah, its phenomenal.
B: That’s amazing.
CA: We have a horse in our video!
B: [excited] Yes! So you got a horse!
CA: We got a horse!
B: I advised you to get a horse and you followed through!
CA: We had it for literally one second. You can’t even see it, but we still did it. We still got that horse in, so very happy. Because my brother won the first ever Lip Dub in 2009..
CP: Now he’s your contest.
B: Just by himself. He was the college! He did it himself, he was the Lip Dub. God, wasn’t it good being a first year?
CP: Yeah. I mean it must be. I think I put progressively more work into uni as I went along, as opposed to when I was in first year. I did absolutely nothing!
B: Because you could get away with doing nothing!
CP: I have respect for first years who study straight away, that’s impressive.
B: So first exam start in a while right? You have a week, next week’s a break, next week no class and then exams start on the Saturday?
CP: And I have no idea about honours exams…
B: You’re off the radar.
CP: In fact, I booked hot flights to Iran in the middle of exams – don’t follow my path.
B: He’s Iran-ning away! [laughs]
CA: Oh stop it! [laughs]
CP: God that was worse. [laughs]
B: Maybe pro tip, don’t go to Iran.
CP: Yeah, follow my path of decent enough grades to get into honours, don’t follow my travel plans.
B: You’ll be fine! It’s first year! There’s a multiple choice component, so you have nothing to worry about.
CP Other people you’re closest with… are they the kind of people who, after the exam, want to talk about it? Because that is the last bit of advice I would give…
B: Oh that’s the pits!
CP: … as soon as the exam is over, just don’t talk about it. Let it go, let it be in the past.
B: Cormac’s right. It’s the worst feeling when you walk out of an exam, and everyone’s talking about it saying ‘Oh, did you get a) on this question? Did you do this on this particular question?’ and you’re like ‘Well I didn’t, like…’
CP: ‘Don’t talk to me about that’. Having that kind of implicit understanding amongst friends that, we’re justnot going to do that… that we’re going to go to Cap S for example!
CP: The Tav’s a much better example. But that’s the idea. I think you’ll be fine.
B: Do you know where your exams are? I mean, you don’t even know when they are, so I doubt you’ll know where they are.
CA: No idea.
B: Godspeed if you have an exam in the Octagon, that’s all I’m saying.
CP: Yeah god.
CA: What’s up with the Octagon?
CP: It’s just enormous. There’s so many bloody kids…
B: … and the tables are so small…
CP: They’re the ones you have during your lectures that flip out.
CA: Oh no!
CP: Yeah, sometimes you get those. They’re not good. I think my POLS1101 exam was… god, I think it was in Winthrop Hall…? Might have been.
CA: Do you have exams in Winthrop Hall?
CP: Oh yeah! It’s a big enough venue.
B: It’s beautiful.
CP: Distracting, in fact!
B: If you get an afternoon exam, the stained glass window… the sun comes through, and often it’ll beam down on one person, like an angelic blessing.
CA: They just get blessed.
B: They just get blessed!
CP: I lost 15 minutes on an exam once, because I was distracted by the nice little lights.
B: It’s very pretty.
CA: I’m ready.
B: Or, you’ll end up in the Rec Centre, which is just 1,000 people in a room.
CP: It’s disgusting.
CA: [confused] Wh… what is the Rec Centre?
CP + B: The gym!
CA: Are you serious?
CP: Ooooooh yeah.
B: The big hall!
CP: They put multiple exams in there.
B: Oh boy, you don’t know what’s coming yet. It takes like half an hour for everyone to file in and take their seats.
CP: And if you finish early and you’re at the back, you’ve got a long loud walk past everyone to get there.
B: Walk of shame if you have to go to the toilet! Because you’re going all the way from the back. Okay! I reckon that’s pretty good to be honest. I’m going to let you think of a sign off now, whilst I do a signoff and say thankyou very much to Cormac, coming in with us today and having a chat about politics and uni life. Again, Cormac’s Pelican’s politics editor, so go and read some of his sick stuff that he’s writing.
CP: Get keen!
B: He’ll become even more prominent with Guild Elections coming up next semester…
CP: [cheering] Get keeeeeeen!
B: Got some hoooooot takes! As for us, certainly this is our last episode before exams happen, because we’re all going into exams and won’t have time to make another episode before that. But I might check in with Cohen and make a sneaky short episode in the middle of exams, or once my exams are done to see how he’s going, before we go into holidays.
CA: From the warzone.
B: Exactly, from the warzone! So hopefully that’ll come through and we can say goodbye to you guys before holidays. As always, thankyou everyone for listening or reading the transcript- and do you have a signoff Cohen?
CA: Of course!
B: Is it going to be as bad as last week’s?
CA: It’s going to be far worse.
B: Okay. I’m Bridget…
CA: I’m Cohen…
CP: And I’m Cormac…
CA: And we’re coming in with a fresh yeet!
CP: God that’s the worst!
B: God that IS the worst!
CA: I hate myself.
[Cormac coughing out of laughter]
B: See ya guys!