You’ve spent the past 4 nights in the library flipping through your tattered notebook. You’ve highlighted and re-highlighted all the most important sections in the textbook. You’ve answered the sample review questions your T.A. gave out and the entire review packet distributed at the review session.
Hell, you went to the review session.
Before you climb into bed at the ripe hour of 11 p.m., you pack your messenger bag with two blue books, 2 pens (in case one runs out of ink), a few pencils (in case that is what the teacher prefers), White-out, gum, tissues and a bag of Sour Patch Kids (for a post-exam celebration). You set your alarm and snuggle into your Twin XL to get the required 8 hours before the big day.
Except you only got 5 hours. The other three were spent staring at the ceiling freaking out.
“Oh God. This exam is 50% of my grade. 50! I can not eff this up. What is an example of Intrinsic Motivation? What are the symptoms of Multiple Personality Disorder?! Why am I still awake?!”
When your alarm goes off, you shoot out of bed and spend the duration of your shower/hair drying/getting dressed testing yourself just a little bit more. You flip through your notes one last time as you scarf down a bowl of cereal, then review them again on the way to the lecture hall.
You find your assigned seat, unpack your abundance of supplies and wait for the exam to begin. You’re feeling confident and ready, already planning what you’ll be drinking to celebrate when this nightmare is over.
In what seems like slow motion, the T.A.s and or professors begin walking through the hall, passing stacks of exams to the end of the rows. You wait as the students to the left of you take one and pass. Finally, you get the stack. The professor makes a few announcements, writes the time on the board in giant numbers and it begins.
You open the exam and review the questions.
And you have no freaking clue how to answer the first one…or the second. Then you read the third. Panicking, you look around the room. Everyone else has already started writing. You start to sweat.
Finally, you find a question you at least understand. You draw up a little outline, figure out what you are going to say and begin writing.
Things start out well. You got a good thesis statement, your thoughts are organized and you are sort of excited to answer the question. Then your hand starts to hurt. You put your pen down and shake it out. When you begin writing again, your neck begins to hurt. You pause and stretch it left and right, making sure to keep your eyes closed so no one thinks you’re cheating.
You continue writing.
About halfway through your answer you realize you forgot one very important section. You debate crossing everything out and starting over but there is no time. Instead you leave a little footnote for the grader and hope he/she finds this little paragraph in the back before they slap a big red grade on the front. Not that they will be able to read it; by this time you are so bored with writing the exam that your writing has gone from legible to 7-year-old boy.
You hear someone changing the time on the chalkboard and look up to find many students packing their things and leaving. There are only 20 minutes left and you still have a ways to go. You rip through the rest of the answer, filling one entire blue book and a few pages of another. With what? You have no idea. Tired and sick of writing, you forgo reviewing your answer, pack your stuff and leave.
Your hand hurts, your neck hurts, your brain hurts…. and now all you can do is bust out those Sour Patch Kids. And wait for the grade.
Yeah, we’ve all been there. And we’ve got the staple marks on the side of our hands to prove it.