Stephen Fahey: The test

Having returning to school several weeks ago, I finally sat my first written exams in eighteen years this week. Two whole hours of writing out, by hand, all the juicy goodness I’ve been absorbing. Two whole, seemingly endless hours to have to stretch out all the information I could manage to remember. The last time I sat one of these I was eighteen years old and as gormless as the next dozen eighteen year olds.

But sitting an exam in my thirties was a very different experience from back in 2001. For a start: two hours to a grown man are nothing like two hours are to a teenager. Also, two hours in an exam as an adult is more like five minutes. It’s nowhere near long enough.

Even with the foresight to allot set amounts of time to each question, with time left over to recap what I’d written, there was still some weird time warp happening in the examination room whereby time inexplicably sped up. Only five minutes into the exam and half an hour had already zipped by.

Remembering quotations, drawing graphs from memory and accounting for the hyper-time-warp, all came together and by the end of the two hours the job was done. The sweet scent of free air hadn’t been so delicious in nearly two decades. Of course, my arm was about to fall off and declare itself a legal independent after all the writing, but all of us in the class were in equal amounts of agony and relief.

There will be more written exams, and practical assignments and presentations, and reports to submit, and as I’m older now it’s not so bad. But I feel, all the more, for the students in schools and colleges and universities around the world. I know, I know, I’ve always been the first the slag students.

So, having seen the light, at this time of year, during the exams weeks that will soon start, we could all be a little kinder to those smelly degenerates whining about having to study and do tests. Resist your urges to throttle and strangle them. They’re in enough pain as it is. Maybe even, just maybe, be nice to them.

Stephen Fahey

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