10 Oct 2010

Next Wave

EOY. I hate that acronym.

It can strike fear in many students. Just mentioning it can cause some to have horrible flashbacks of their previous results. Results that are usually disastrous.

Teachers aren't fond of EOYs either. Their tasks start months before with the setting of the questions. During the exams, some of them act as security guards, scouting out for anyone trying to commit the foul act of cheating. After the exam ends, more teachers are gathered to mark hundreds of scripts. Sometimes conflicts happen due to the changing of benchmarks, which can frustrate both teachers and students.

Examine Student A and Student B. Before the exams, Student A has already started revision months ago, creating his own notes which are more effective than the textbooks. He has already tried out various assessment papers from previous years, and even requested for extra tuition, both from the school teachers and the tutors from outside. He is still revising a day before the exam just to be sure, although it is really unnecessary.

Student B has only just started revision two weeks ago. He knows that he isn't really excellent in any of his subjects, but he has procrastinated for so long. Only now has the urgency and severity of the situation hit him. He is desperately flipping through textbooks and past exercises, hoping that he would absorb all that information in such little time. He is begging other classmates for their notes to compensate for his own lack of notes, expecting that their notes would make it much easier for him to relearn everything.

It is the day of the first exam. Student A is feeling quite confident that he would be able to get at least 70%(or 80%) for this test. Still, no harm in looking through his neatly organised notes one hour before. He shows no nervousness at all, concentrating on remembering all the necessary concepts needed.

Student B is getting butterflies. He has forgotten most of what he tried to cram into his head yesterday, and is going through borrowed notes again. He is repeating formulae endlessly, trying to drill it into his memory. "x equals to minus b plus/minus squareroot of b squared minus 4ac divided by 2a..." It seems to be working, he feels. Perhaps he might be able to pass after all. He stares at student A, seeing the calm expression on his face, and that aggravates him even more. Why is student A so prepared? Crap, I need to prepare myself fast!

Finally, both students are in the examination hall. It has begun. Student A has clearly shifted to exam mode. He is reading each question carefully, analysing each option, answering each open-ended question in as much detail as possible. For the essay questions, he already has a clearly formed structure of his arguments in his head. There is no hesitation. He has conquered the tests. He has already gotten his straight A's.

Student B is fumbling through the questions. He is frequently stuck on questions which he should be able to answer in less than a minute, had he paid attention during lessons. He twirls his pen around, hoping that the answer may strike him like lightning at any moment. Time is moving faster than he thought, so he just skips questions that carry fewer marks. The higher-marks questions are even more unforgiving, unfortunately. He just makes up some answers for the open-ended questions. His essay is just a whole bunch of ideas strung together hastily, not with proper organisation at all. He already knows he would not get an A at all, but now he is struggling to save himself from failure.

After the whole wave of exams, Student A is smiling quietly to himself. Apart from a few tough questions, he can say he has survived the exams with ease. He can now enjoy himself for a while, earning a well-deserved break after grueling hours of intensive revision. He is proud of himself.

Student B emerges even more depressed than before. He should have taken his parents' and teachers' advice to start preparing much earlier. He feels really stupid because he could have prevented this catastrophe from happening had he revised at least a month ago. Instead of unwinding, he spends the next days of break trying to drown his sorrows through watching movies, playing games and other mind-numbing activities. However, he still feels very ashamed of himself.

Now, specifically to students, which one are you more like, student A or B? Or somewhere in the middle?

Me? I'm not telling. I just hope I don't end up with the same fate as the latter... :(