Yesterday, I was giving an exam.

The second candidate looks a bit nervous, gives the usual defeatist talk about everything going bad etc. and looks a little distressed when entering the room.

I let her talk, like I always do, try to give the student a chance to show some initiative. Then it completely backfires. She claims she knows nothing about the subject, gets up and almost leaves the room saying something like “I cannot take this, I know nothing about the subject”

For a small fraction of a second I’m thinking “great, I can go home sooner”, but then reality sinks in, and I realize I at least have to try to save this person from disaster.

I change my mode into questioner-mode, something that works better with extremely nervous people, ask her a few direct questions that she answers correctly. The more complex questions she misses, but it’s enough to make her pass, which is my foremost worry in this kind of situation. During the examination, she is so nervous that she actually sheds tears.

After the exam, we have a short talk with her, I tell her that my exam anxieties at the university were quickly shed by have three oral exams per semester for about two years, and she tells us she considers this training for the really important exams which will be in the autumn.

At last, when she leaves she says “You should be lucky you didn’t see me at my last exam, I was so worried, I threw up”

8 thoughts on “exams

  1. that’s just ridiculous though. i mean, good for you for trying to help her out, but she really needs to get professional help on her own. is she ever planning on talking at conferences or something? because she definitely won’t be able to if she keeps that up.

  2. Well, avoiding to vomit was a clear sign that she had improved, but yes, she should get some help. I have no way to contact her now, though, I neither have the name or her number (this was an exam for students taking the course without taking tuition)

  3. Oh, how horrible.

    There is a course at the UiB to help people with such anxieties. Of course you’ll have to get into university first.

    I have 16 candidates to examine tomorrow. Hopefully nobody will cry, everybody will speak and I will be able to understand them.

  4. You hold this girl’s future in your hands, committee.

    But wait. That was Charlie Simms, in Scent of a Woman. He, as the astute viewer would have realised, was in possession of the great albeit rare quality of “not sucking”. Not so for your girl in the above example.

    You should have laughed at her, man. Pointed your finger at her and produced a withering cackle of the kind that strips flesh off bones.

    You had a shot at weeding her out of the gene pool, and you failed. Now, she’ll grow up to be a big girl and probably become the kind of incapable waitress that causes heart attack in righteously angry people, or the sort of incompetent nurse that makes Typhoid Mary look like Florence Nightingale.

    We do not train to be merciful here. Mercy is for the weak. Defeat does not exist in this dojo, does it?

  5. Re: You hold this girl’s future in your hands, committee.

    what you’re suggesting is a great way to get vomit all over my nice clothes. :)

  6. A conselour i had told me about one of thise situations, he had a student who could not even state his name. He was millimetres away from fanting and trowing up. So the poor exsaminator told the guy to sit down. Asuring him they had all the time needed. Take a deep breath and streach a bit. All confused dead scared, hi did as the man told him, and were much better afterwards. I think they (employers) shold give out lessons in how to calm students. BTW Throwing up is quite a sensible way for the body to reach on high stress.

Comments are closed.