Saturday, May 2, 2009

Why I hate to be on-time for Examinations

You arrive at the examinations venue; surrounded by hundreds of students. Every student is reading from heavy books and big stacks of notes. Some are discussing complex questions and displaying what they've learnt so far. Finally, one by one, they all head in. The procters/invigilators stand there in front of each row, asking you your seat number and guiding you, just like when you board a flight. But they're not smiling or trying to please you here. They're just trying to scare you. 
You sit there for a while, with pin-drop silence in the room - the only sound being the papers shuffling and sliding against the table as answer booklets and exam papers are handed out. Then the head examiner reaches for the microphone. A shrilling playback sound pierces through your ears, leaving you partly deaf, such that you now hear a constant tone. 
The examiner finally begins his announcements. You will not be permitted to leave this room for blah blah minutes before the exam timings end. You make a mental note to try to finish earlier, making you a tad more nervous. You may use blah-coloured pens and 2B pencils only. You quickly check your stationary if everything is in order. You freak out when you realise your pencil is HB. But you're too scared you will get scolded if you raise your hand to ask an invigilator if HB pencils can be machine-read.  You are not allowed to bring cell-phones to the exam venue; any cell phones found would be confiscated. What bullshit, you tell yourself. You are already there and your cell phone is in your pocket. You look around while you secretly take out your cell phone from your pocket to ensure it is in Silent mode. Cheating in examinations is considered an extremely serious offence which may lead to expulsion from the University. You know that! God. Are they just trying to freak you out here? It's not like you want to get expelled. If you have accidentally taken revision notes or other unauthorised material into the examination room, surrender them immediately to the supervisor. Crap. You have my notes in the exam hall, but they're lying in the corner with everyone else's bags. After-all, you didn't bring them in to cheat. And what do they mean 'surrender' anyway? Is this a hostile situation? Okay, I'll just ignore that one. Do not look at other candidates’ answers, and do not talk or communicate in any way with other candidates since this may lead to suspicion of copying. Are they kidding you? Seriously? What if you are just looking around subconsciously because that is what you do when you're thinking about your answers? The examinees are like 10 metres apart! How the hell do they think you can see another candidate's answers? You're not Jack Bennett of the Bionic-Six with super-sight. Ah, Bionic-1 was the coolest of them all.
This goes on for a while, until your hands are trembling so much that you actually find the step-by-step instructions for filling out the name, student number and exam codes useful (even though it's fairly obvious that you write your name under 'Name' and so on). 
Eventually, the examiner allows you to begin. You have 1 hour 45 minutes to finish this test. Pens and pencils out. 1. 2. 3. Go!
Okay, maybe that is not exactly how it goes for everyone (some examiners are nice enough to wish you good luck before putting you on the timer). But generally speaking, they try their level best to freak you out of your wits. They shatter your confidence. And they all give you stern looks all the time. If you're a favourite of your professor, then the students give you those looks and you can almost hear them praying that you screw up your test. 
I just think the best solution is to lose 5-10 minutes on your test so that you can perform better. When you arrive late, you're ushered into the hall like a celebrity. You don't have to walk through rows and rows of tables as someone would always escort you to your seat and personally hand you your answer booklet and test paper. All the other kids stare at you in disbelief because they can't imagine being late for an exam! And your confidence gets a 200% boost when you just smile at them, take your seat, stretch your arms lazily and begin filling in your name and other details. The bottom-line is, you have the presence of mind that is required to excel in an exam, which can not be replaced by tens of hours of studying and the intense paranoia that consumes most students in my class. 

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