Final Exam Rollercoasters

Last week I managed to take what I think is the last exam of my current degree program. I only have a practicum left, and since those are normally papers and projects, I’m feeling pretty safe in this assumption.

Now as someone who has gotten off and on the formal education carousel more than a few times, wracked up a few degrees and has been in the workforce for over a decade, you’d think I’d have learned how to control my emotions around test taking.

You’d be wrong.

I literally have the exact same reaction to tests that I had in first grade, though I use more profanity now. Every time I get near a test, my emotions go something like this:

I should note that this reaction is entirely unrelated to the following variables:

  1. How much I like the class
  2. How well I am doing prior to the test
  3. How much I have studied
  4. How much the test is worth
  5. How I actually do on the test

The following things are also true:

  1. Every time a test is put in front of me, I have a dreamlike moment where I believe I have sat down in the wrong class and that’s why nothing looks familiar. For language related tests, I believe all the words are in a different language.
  2. I have doubted every grade I have ever been given, believing that both good grades and bad grades are mistakes the professor is about to correct.
  3. The question “how do you think you did?” is completely flummoxing for me. I struggle to answer something other than “I have envisioned scenarios everywhere between a 20% and 100%, and they all feel equally plausible at the moment.”

Once I realized this pattern wasn’t going to stop, I actually felt much better. Now when I get the test I merely do one of those CBT type things where I go “ah yes, this is the part where I believe the test is written in Chinese. It’ll pass in a few minutes, just slog on until then”. It’s not that bad if you know it’s coming.

(I did fine by the way, thanks for asking)

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