In at the deep end

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Oh yes indeedy! It’s that time of year again. Sharpen your pencils and break-out the Red Bull, examinations are once more upon us. To think, just six weeks from now you’ll be basking in the early summer sunshine and dreaming of faraway places; so much to see, so much to do, and oodles of time to do it…all that’s standing in your way is six weeks of pure hell on earth. Ugh! Is this really any way for a civilised society to conduct itself?

I hate exams and, to be perfectly honest, I view anybody who doesn’t with equal measures of fear and disdain. They’re just so unnatural (exams, that is, not those who enjoy them. Although, now I think about it… ). To enjoy the annual exam period, to even be indifferent towards it, is to release one’s inner masochist for all the world to see. I have a friend who claims to love sitting exams; he’d much prefer, he says, to sit an exam than to submit coursework. He likes the way they’re over and done with in a matter of hours. He would gladly choose a few sleep deprived nights of last-minute cramming, three hours in an uncomfortable chair, a stuffy room, two hundred of his coughing and sniffling peers and the inevitable writer’s cramp, over a nice leisurely-written essay. He also likes Marmite. The evidence speaks for itself.

It isn’t though, is it? It’s not natural. Footballers aren’t required to train for eight months in order to prove their worth in a single match. Why should academic dexterity be measured in such a way?

But I’m a pessimist, I admit. There will probably be first years out there reading these words and trembling, and I wouldn’t want that. Exams aren’t that bad, I promise you – really, they aren’t. And anyway, you can just think of them as a practice run; a warm-up, as it were, for the years to come. The slate will be wiped clean once you progress into the second year, so just enjoy dipping your toe in the water for now, you’ll soon see it’s really not that deep. Just don’t get too comfortable in the shallow end, that’s all; the pool in this place has a steep gradient and they don’t allow arm bands. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to don my scuba gear and hope to goodness I’ve enough air to last three hours.