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”