My Final Exam

You can almost hear the music building to its crescendo as the audience looks on in rapture, a voice in third row squawking, “This dragged on a couple of years too long!” Well, shut up, Barbara! We all make mistakes. We all spent two years on a course we hated before eventually deciding to follow our dreams! Okay, Barbara! Anyone? Didn’t we?

Damn it, she left. Maybe she left to follow her own dreams.

Back to me. As I anticipate the end of my academic life, it has come time to take the last exam I will ever sit. Unless I decide to learn to drive. Or earn another qualification. Or get a job that involves tests of any kind. As I’m writing this, it’s beginning to occur to me that this might not actually be my last exam. Nevermind. I shall celebrate like it is. I will dance around to Catch Your Dream (“it’s not enough to simply catch your dream, you gotta grab your dream and then you catch your dream’s dream!”) as confetti cannons explode from every corner of the room.

Currently, I am still doggy-paddling through this sewage tunnel of revision so my mood lacks the jubilance that I have foreseen. My history with exams has always been somewhat difficult. I feel like you do far more work than will ever be appreciated and it’s largely a matter of luck with the questions. At school, I was terrible at exams. My memory is atrocious so revision does little to help me and, with that in mind, my attention span is like that of a five-year-old who just ate their own weight in blue Smarties. School exams were always about remembering things, it seemed to me. I would fill out those fun little forms, taking up as much space as I could with my tiny handwriting so that I could enjoy the satisfaction of asking for more paper, thinking that my big ideas were far beyond the small-minded cretins who were marking GCSE science papers. Hey buddy, you know where you can shove your laws of physics? I’ll give you a clue: it would defy gravity.

I feel that they sensed my beef and marked accordingly. I loved school but hated being marked. This was probably a contributing factor in my Irish dancing competition breakdown. You know what they say, breakdance not down.

University was a little better. It seemed less a memory game and more about the construction of arguments. Nail the formula and you can get by, even when memory fails (which, reliably, it will). While my exam results are usually still lower than my coursework marks, I’ve found a groove. What a ride it’s been. There’ve been highs (that one A* in R.E. back in ’08, no biggie), there’ve been lows (CLASSIFIED), but all in all it’s been a mildly traumatic and terrible experience. You know, I’ll almost miss those quiet cough-offs, the gentle footstep of the approaching invigilator, the comprehensive study of the back of a classmate’s head, the anticipation of your row being dismissed and, let’s not forget, that moment when you get outside and urgently discuss all of the answers, realising that you failed 90% of it based on your friends’ comments.

Yes, I’ll have to savour every moment. Soon I’ll be looking back, wistfully remembering that moustachioed invigilator with such fondness that my heart will leap out of my chest. “Oh, Brian, if only I could ask you to save me from my inkless pen catastrophe one more time…”