Monday, December 26, 2011

"Waiting for mark worse than writing the exam."

by Tess Allen
for the

Two weeks ago, I had conclusively decided that there was nothing in the world more agonizing than final exams. The countless hours spent pouring over notes, the restless sleeps fraught with exam-related nightmares, weeping openly and frantically reciting passages from The Republic over and over again certainly felt like a fate worse than death.

After all, what could be more loathsome, more disturbing to a first-year university student than final exams?

Then exams were over, and it was time to find out our final grades, time to find out whether all the work we had put in (or hadn't) had paid off. I did not realize that the aftermath of exam-writing was actually far more ghastly, far more repulsive than writing the exams themselves. Who would have thought final exams could actually be surpassed in grisliness?

Full Article.


  1. 18/19-year-olds can be a bit dramatic, can't they?

    It's interesting. Now that the young relatives with whom I often spend holidays are reaching their teens, my expressions of exhaustion over grading are getting a bit less sympathy, from them and their parents. In the building anxiety about college, and getting in, and whether wherever the kids eventually do go will treat them well, and justify the price their parents will pay, I'm becoming, if not the enemy, then at least a representative of an entire system viewed with a certain amount of (quite possibly partly justified) distrust. But the reactions to grades still vary: the youngest, most competitive of the bunch just wants his grades, now (after all, he gets a time right at the end of a track meet), whereas one of the older, more thoughtful, boys takes an attitude that feels more familiar to me, from my own past: he's done his best, and feels he got something out of the process, and, while he cares about the grades, he isn't tremendously anxious for them to arrive. It's not that he doesn't respect or recognize the importance of his teachers' evaluation of the process, but he also has his own.

  2. Dramatic and hyperbolic, but I found it encouraging that the kid seems to understand that a great deal of work is required on her part.

  3. Wow--the worst thing in the world clearly hasn't happened to them yet. I always knew (ball park) what kind of a grade I earned on a final exam. But I notice that my students don't seem to have that same ability to ballpark their performance.

    I heard a student saying to himself, "YES! I nailed this one," and when I glanced at his final, it was a D, at best.

  4. It wasn't that long ago that one found out marks by the letter mailed from the Registrar's office to the parental address, several weeks or a month into the next term...

  5. It wasn't that long ago that one found out marks by the letter mailed from the Registrar's office to the parental address, several weeks or a month into the next term...

    That's what I was going to say. I don't think I EVER got any feedback on spring term finals. Maybe not fall term either. I got the final class grade a while later in the mail and, if I even bothered, I could infer the grade on the final exam based on the final grade in the class.

  6. I'm with cranky. Journalism student writes humour piece for the 'Life' section (or whatever) of her home town paper. Granted, she's not about to take Dave Barry's job away from him yet. But how much would you give for a first year student who is self aware, and writes coherent prose?

  7. How refreshing, in these corrupt, cynical times, to read something literate from a student who actually knows she's expected to work hard for good grades, and gives more than a fig about them! I wish this young woman a bright future.

    And yes, don't you remember how excitable we were, at that age? It's wonderful that there are still freshpeople who can still feel that. It's perfectly normal to be that way at that age, and college very much evolved over centuries to accommodate that. It sure beats that jaded, eyes-glazed-over, expressionless drooling from far too many of her electronically overstimulated peers.


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