What It’s Like To Write This Midterm Right Now

Shutterstock / Pakawat Suwannaket
Shutterstock / Pakawat Suwannaket

People go into the auditorium and it reminds me of a stampede although I have never witnessed a stampede, probably just memory from Disney movie, used to think about stampedes when I was little, thought they were “scary,” didn’t realize it was illegitimate fear at time, especially considering 50% of wildlife extinct over past century.

Thought about strategies in examination performance.

Shutterstock / Vitolga
Shutterstock / Vitolga

Thought eating foods at specific times leading up to exam would result in favorable standpoint. Ate protein-rich breakfast, neurorenerative mushrooms, fatty and sugary fruits, avocado and banana. Considered coffee but opted out, thinking might get too nervous, combination of nervousness plus caffeine resulting in possible heart palpitations and distraction from anxiety.

Briefly looked over notes before going in but did not attempt to make new connections, just wanted to recognize familiar terms, maybe just comfort.
Did not work because body started vibrating intensely as soon as entrance.

Looking for most comfortable seating arrangement. Panicking in indecision, chose abruptly, stuck between two panting girls. Girls making obnoxious noises with paper and breath, although clearly heightened auditory sense due to fear/stress.

Shutterstock / Alexander Tihonov
Shutterstock / Alexander Tihonov

Making conscious effort to relax. Inhaling deeply, exhaling tranquilly, like zen.

Mechanically going through papers of questions, looking for easiest to do first, a strategy I never tried but trust has virtue. Feeling very mechanical, removed from self, automatic.

Feeling good about knowing correct answers. Feeling surprised / impressed with self. Confidence gains.

Feeling entertained by challenges in hard questions, using logic to make sense.

Questioning own logic.

Shutterstock / igor kisselev
Shutterstock / igor kisselev

Feeling confused by words of some multiple choice options, therefore feeling “deceived” by preparatory midterm which was posted one week prior.

Realizing I had neglected to study relationships between certain things.

Guessing based on what I vaguely remember, although several options seem plausible. Feeling inferior in ability to make distinctions between concepts. Making internal note to study differently later. Leaving two hardest questions for very end.

Notice about half of class has left or is leaving.

Last fifteen minutes of time slot. Checking clock anxiously, trying not to spend time in indecision. Making risky choices. Slowest pencil ever.

Quickly reviewing answer sheet to make sure circles correspond to question numbers.

Feeling like time is evaporating / vapor. Feeling like there is no time. Feeling overall satisfied, I guess.

Raise hand to notify TA I have completed.

She looks up with her glasses, blond, I wonder how old, wonder what she is studying, why she is TA. She is looking over my sheet and I wonder if I can say something advantageous during this interaction.

“Op,” she says. “You just have to fill in your name there.”

TA finger pointing to alphabetical circles.

Chortle eruption.

“Oh god,” I say. “Sorry.”

“It’s okay,” she says.

Realizing I still feel anxious about time limit, graphite quickly.

“And your class section.”

How are we supposed to know our class section?


Her finger again, pointing to title page.

“It’s right there.”

Relieved, but feeling like, why is this?

Look at clock after handing in and breathing peaceful. Ten minutes left.

Two weeks later, reviewing wrong answers during office hours.

Realizing 3/5 wrong answers were avoidable, things that I knew, but somehow answered incorrectly. Wondering about examination performance and anxiety and coping techniques.

Wondering about people who always get perfect. Do they even need coping techniques? Are there parents cool or scary? Are their brains anatomically superior? Could I then technically be considered disabled? In the future will all humans get perfect?

Shutterstock / Pitju
Shutterstock / Pitju

Realizing I have rushed out of examinations twice in recent past and received satisfactory grades but not personally impressive. Trying to understand reason for rushing out. No reason.Irrational. Making important note to self. Imagining future self in future exam, in similar circumstance, done ten minutes early, imaging myself feeling relieved by the clock. Imagining myself relaxing for a couple of minutes and breathing until I feel like I’ve rested. Imagining reading the test leisurely from cover to cover, as if I were a teacher marking an assignment. No critical thinking, just careful and cool fact-checking.

GOOD LUCK LOL!!! Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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