Monday, 16 April 2012

A scary exam

Last Friday I woke up around seven in the morning, feeling significantly less sleepy than I normally do when waking up. Of course, I had spent of the night awake while twisting and turning in bed, filled with troubling thoughts. It was a combination of pondering the various consequences of moralistic viewpoints and needing to wake up really early that make me nervous enough not to get enough sleep. The advantage is that I will feel really awake until later in the afternoon and my exam was just before lunch.

I had my breakfast, packed my things and headed for the bus. It is a two hour commute, so I made sure to use my time by studying a little more. I wonder if you can ever be fully prepared for an exam. Is it not true that the more you know about a subject, the more you realize there is yet to learn? I arrived in Utrecht  90 minutes early, letting me buy a lunch and some sports drinks to provide the mental energy I was sure to need later on. I arrived at the examination room an hour early and used the time to read up on a mathematical theorem; it is always important to relax just before an exam instead of nervously cramming every single fact you can find. If you do that, it becomes very difficult to handle two hours of intensive thinking.

The door open eventually and all the students take their seats. I take out my two law books, my bundle of jurisprudence and three working pens. My name is written on the answer sheet and I start reading the information on the front page of the exam. We are not allowed to look at the actual questions yet, but everything that is read now will not have to be read later.

The professor present announces that we can begin and I check it out. Three general questions and a case. I can feel my mind formulating answers to all three questions and start writing down keywords on a blank sheet. I glance at the clock and start planning my answers. I have two hours, or 120 minutes. I can get 70 points for all the questions. That means I have a little over 17 minutes per 10 points worth of questions. I regularly check the clock to make sure I am not falling too much behind.

After a lot of stress, with just two minutes to spare, I hurriedly finish my final question. Had I had more time, I would have searched for a couple more provisions of criminal law to strengthen my arguments, but two minutes was not enough time to both find and incorporate it. I handed in the exam, packed my things and left the room.

I thought I did well, as I walked to the bus home, though it is always impossible to tell. I had to guess one answer, but I thought it was a good guess. Not all my answers were complete, but they all seemed correct. Like always, I will not be sure until the grades become available.

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