The most annoying things when writing exams

Here in South Africa, our university students will be starting their mid-year exams in a week or so. (It’s not technically the middle of the year anymore, but this arrangement is due to Covid-19). I thought back to my varsity days and the things I hated the most about exams. To be honest, exams are annoying in general. All that studying and then all that writing, and for what? Be honest, how much do you remember an hour after you finished your question paper? There are many, but I will only talk about the most annoying things when writing exams. 

This post will mainly focus on the annoying things that happen when you are sitting in the examination venue and writing your hand to a pulp.

The dreaded wobbly table

This is definitely the most annoying and distracting thing that can happen to you when writing exams. I have had the misfortune of this happening to me a few times and it drove me crazy. I would then shift my weight and sit in an uncomfortable position just so that the damn table doesn’t wobble.

When your table is in the sun

The venue has very few windows, but somehow the sun sneaks in and falls on your table. This is not only annoying but can be potentially blinding. Allow me to explain.

Which colour are the examination papers? White. Which colour are the answer sheets? White. And the sun reflects like a bitch off white paper.

The invigilators

The invigilators at my university are predominantly ancient white folk. Seriously, it’s like the old age home when you look at the invigilators. Let me illustrate why this is annoying with a story.

One time in my second year I wrote an exam on a Saturday morning. It was a three-hour paper, so as you can imagine there was quite a bit of writing involved. After two hours I put up my hand to ask for more paper. An old guy came to my table and without saying anything he gave me more paper. I was impressed with his efficiency.

After another half an hour I desperately had to go to the bathroom. I put up my hand again. The same guy came to my table and was already giving me more paper when I whispered that I wanted to go to the bathroom. To my absolute embarrassment, this guy was about 80% deaf. I’m not saying that I shouted at the elderly, but by the time he finally permitted me to go to the bathroom, everyone in that hall knew that I was getting up to go pee. This was especially embarrassing because a hot guy was sitting at the table next to mine.

Another thing that annoys me is when an invigilator stops at your table and reads what you are writing. I just feel like one of my rights are being violated. And let’s be honest, it’s not like they understand anything they’re reading anyway.

Writing on Saturdays

It should be illegal. You work during the week and then they expect you to give up your weekend too? What is wrong with universities?

The worst thing about writing on a Saturday (usually very early on a Saturday morning) is not getting up early, but studying on a Friday night. It’s just not right.

My body turning on me

It seems like after about two hours of writing an exam, my system always started to turn on me. 

I wish I was one of those people who could write with both hands because my hands always got sore from writing so damn much. Sometimes I got cramps in my hand. The only thing worse than that was when my hand started to sweat. It sucks because the freaking pen kept on slipping out of my hand.

Also, about two hours into a paper, I would start getting back and shoulder cramps. It’s really hard to stretch in the confinement of a table.

It was also during this last stretch of a paper that I would start getting hungry. I always ate before the exam, I’m not stupid, but I eat very often and hence I got hungry.

Why did my body do all these things? It’s like it wanted me to fail.

Of course, there are many more things that I could add to the list, but I don’t have time for that right now.

The funny thing

I’m doing my teaching diploma next year, so I’ll be suffering through all of the annoying things when writing exams in the coming year again. Yay …

Anyway, if you’re writing exams at the moment, good luck.



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