While I am not really done with first year until I have passed both exams, I'm going to act like the first year is done. At least, I'll do that for a few weeks.
This morning I finished my 2nd prelim, which was in macro. The first was in micro. I hope to write more reflections over the coming weeks about first year. I hope to get my thoughts down when I have a clear head, but also remember what first year is like. I don't want time to distort my perception.
Both exams were easier than I expected. While that doesn't mean I passed both, it is nice to come out and feel better than when you went in.
But it's hard to tell. As I said in a earlier post, the grading is a mystery. I'll have to wait until the pass/fail comes in to really know.
The 5 hours of the actual exam was a unique experience. While I'd taken long exams for my physics undergrad or for things like the GRE, these were more exhausting than I anticipated. Luckily, there was lots of candy (the food of champions I believe) to keep me fueled for the exam. It was mentally draining. I expect to crash in about an hour.
There was such a build up to micro that I crashed after that. The rest of that day and the next, I couldn't study for macro. I came to the office and tried to focus, but I was completely fried. That is something I did not schedule for, leaving me with 2 less days for macro than I expected.
Overall, the exams were fair.
I started studying in January, which made life easier for me at the end. It was still a rush over the past few weeks, but less so than for people who started in March.
My advice to anyone who has to take these exams, start early. This seems obvious, but not everyone does it. Maybe other strategies work for other people. It wouldn't have worked for me. Seeing stuff over several months allowed some things to stick by the end.
Maybe what I did wasn't enough. Maybe I should have started last September. I won't know whether my strategy worked until the end of June when we get the results.
But this year is now sunk. I did what I did. All I can do from here is maximize my utility going forward. In the immediate future that includes a BBQ with our department. Over the weekend that involves a bachelor party. Over the summer that involves more time with my wife and maybe some economics. Actually, there definitely will be lots of economics. I can't give it up. It's an addiction...