Exams for the Self-Conscious22 June 2018
From experience, I know that the potential for overthinking exists in any situation, even during the infamous exam period. Maybe you’re thinking that everyone is too busy cramming last minute knowledge into their brains to stress about what other people are doing. If that’s true for you, my heartiest congratulations. But the rest of us self-conscious students know that even if life doesn’t screw us over, our brains probably will.
Stage 1: The Waiting Game
I’m sure you are well acquainted with the nervous energy that gathers outside the Exhibition Building fifteen minutes before an exam. This is essentially a bunch of sleep-deprived uni students, gathered in a relatively small area, waiting for their inevitable demise at the hands of sadistic exam writers. With so much caffeine and despair in the air, you would think it impossible for our brains to further twist the situation. However, this is one area in which we exceed our expectations.
The first obstacle is deciding whether to seek out the few people you know who are taking the exam. Do they count as friends? Or are they just acquaintances? Would they even want to see you? More importantly, do you want to see them?
If you end up waiting alone, then begins the task of attempting to appear like you’re not waiting alone. You make the strategic decision to move in to the crowd. Whilst attempting to look like you have friends, you are somehow able to simultaneously stand by yourself and within a crowd. Congratulations, you are officially a walking contradiction. Give yourself a pat on the back, you have achieved the impossible.
Stage 2: The Exam
There is nothing more nerve-wracking then trying to find your seat amongst a dizzying, seemingly endless array of chairs and desks. It’s as if you lose the ability to count. Despite knowing that seat 1108 should come between 1107 and 1109, it is impossible to find. Honestly, the only thing worse than this quest is the horrifying notion that someone might tell you that you are in the wrong seat, lest you have to go through the whole process again. I’m not the only one that spends the next ten minutes praying that won’t happen, right?
Then there is the exam itself. Throughout, you are genuinely afraid that the coordinators will see you look up to stretch and think you’re cheating. Then that will be it—bars will slam down around your desk, alarms will go off, the whole shebang. So you spend as much time as you can looking down at your desk, only to look up with an hour to go and see the hall half empty. How did everyone finish so quickly? Is the exam super easy? Or am I just dumb? These are the thoughts that flood your head as you anxiously proceed to finish the exam as fast as you can.
Stage 3: The Exit
You wait restlessly as the exam coordinator collects the seemingly infinite number of exams around you. You prepare to move quickly as you know that the end of this process triggers the mass movement of an entire herd of disillusioned students.
Many of you then take part in the slow mill to the train station during time which you avoid eye contact and try to forget the harrowing situation you just survived together. If your eyes do happen to meet, you immediately look down at the dark grey pavement which appears to be about as bright as your future. You clutch your plastic bag filled with your pens and your dignity and you make your way home where you can safely mourn the loss of your academic career. On the plus side, a quiet room with no people awaits you.