Examine Examine Examine

I am probably not alone in my dislike of exams. I have heard of at least some who get a real buzz from it but they usually have no friends and are either dreadfully insecure or objectionably arrogant, just like some MENSA members I know.

You can go a long way these days and not see an exam. In fact about 6 months ago, I had cause to take an exam in Quality Management and felt dreadfully put out by the whole revision and cramming process. It quite spoilt my Christmas holidays and I’m sure I was objectionable to the rest of my family. Indeed, if I had spotted Father Christmas himself I would have certainly given him a case of humbug; I cannot stand jollity when I am forced to suffer.

In revising, even though I knew what to do and all the pitfalls, the temptation to delay, procrastinate and otherwise avoid the actual act of revision was immense. It didn’t quite start out that way but when you’ve gone over the same old tired stuff for the 15th time, you would sooner shoot steel pipe into your eyes (I know, I’ve tried), rather than get to it.

And don’t get me started on tackling past exam questions. You know you should but you’re on a knife-edge. Do you open that Pandora’s box of disappointment, demotivation and self-loathing when the questions don’t seem at all related to the course? Or, do you live in blissful denial and save it all for the moment you turn over the real exam paper? Such a dilemma, which one should I choose….

But this is where networking and feedback can help a great deal. I’m not just talking about sharing the suffering – all you need is a can of petrol, a balaclava and fast car for that; no, I’m talking about dialogue with other students and tutors and relieving the sense of isolation, tackling past exam questions as a group (to gain confidence and practice problem-solving skills) and getting feedback and tips from your tutors. You don’t have to even be in the same room these days – sometimes it best not to be – what with things like chat, flash meeting, forums and social networking sites.

I admit, if you don’t have any friends (or at least those that might tolerate your presence), or you happen to be an accountant, it’s a tough one, but lack of friends is probably a self-fulfilling prophesy. But, if you are on a particular course, you do at least have adversity in common.