I have really awful exam nerves, and my first college exams started today. Of course, I had to get off to a brilliant start by taking an exam in a class I wasn’t even signed up for.
Midterm tests take place during normal class periods, so once I realized both my Japanese and Linear Algebra exams were today, I started panicking about the fact that I had ten minutes between those classes. Could I switch my brain from Japanese to Linear Algebra in ten minutes? I wasn’t worried about Japanese in the first place – we hadn’t learned that much vocabulary yet; and I actually had nearly 100% in that class – but Linear Algebra really scared me.
Especially since I had also been BSing most of the purely computational questions up to now, and getting the right answers by using the stuff I learned from MV Calc last year…meaning I never even learned the concepts specific to this class. So I went into a mad study frenzy last night, and just decided I was totally unprepared.
Especially on a ten minute turnaround.
…Which turned out not to be ten minutes.
You see, I actually have a free period between those two classes – which I had forgotten, because I was so overexcited over having two tests in the same morning. Not realizing that, though, I finished Japanese as quickly as I could and ran down to the classroom so I’d have time to study and calm down. As the other students came in, I started to notice some really strange things:
Hm, that isn’t my teacher. I wonder what happened.
Hm, that’s not my TA either.
Why does everyone have flashcards…for math?
Come to think of it, who are these people?
Of course, I just kept dismissing those thoughts – maybe the professor and TA got sick, or maybe teachers didn’t proctor their own exams as part of university policy (I don’t know). Flashcards were just…good study protocol that I should pick up. And I had never talked to anyone in this class, so why should I recognize them? Then the strange professor came by, and passed out all the tests – his directions were sort of confusing, but I just accepted them because I knew I was in the right place at the right time.
Why are there chemical constants on the front page?
Wait…why does the front page say “Biochem Test 1”? Oh…no.
Now, I could’ve gotten up and left (and reclaimed my unexpected extra hour!). And I probably should’ve. But embarrassment is that one feeling that can always make me cry – and I didn’t want to cry the hour before my actual midterm, or think about how stupid I looked. So I sat the Biochem exam, pretended to be writing, and handed in a blank exam at the end of the period (well, I had been using it to practice some proofs…but I erased everything, really).
Then I walked out of the classroom and pretended to leave.
And then I walked back in and took Linear.
It didn’t go badly, at least not by my standards today. After staring at an exam you can’t understand at all for 50 minutes, anything else feels easy.