We have all experienced the pressure of sitting an exam but, oh dear, school has nothing to do with university. There are three main characteristics that differ school exams/A-levels to uni examinations: complexity, time consumption and uncertainty of performance.
First of all, the contents of the module to be examined are usually a whole new bunch of stuff you have never seen before. You only need to check out the names of the subjects: structural analysis, aerodynamics… where are my known physics, chemistry or biology?
Forget about being in a class where you revise previous years’ content, as this is very unlikely to happen in a lecture theatre at 9 am. Your lectures will be filled with complicated theorems, demonstrations and other concepts which won’t be easy to understand straight away.
Secondly, one of the things that most surprised me about uni exams is the amount of time spent working and scratching pieces of paper. You can be at the library for 10 hours straight and you don’t manage to tick all your duties from the revision plan you had prepared. It can be a bit frustrating at times, but you need to realize that you do have worked hard, even if it seems like you’ve only done a couple of things that day.
Thirdly, a very interesting feeling to be mentioned is uncertainty. The two previous factors stated above trigger a sensation of self-doubt and lack of confidence. Among my classmates, I did a survey that showed that their confidence in sitting the exams was of 5.7 out of 10, being the average daily studying hours at 4 to 8 hours.
Common comments on how they were feeling include “nervous”, “panicked” or some funny others such as “feeling like a potato that is about to get peeled, chopped and fried”.
It is evident that exams can cause stress and anxiety, but, just like a good friend of mine told me, it is a matter of being practical and looking at them as means to an end. You need to pass those examinations to become who you want to be.
Surround yourself with people that make your life more bearable, even in periods of constant mental breakdowns.
With that being said, I would like to thank my class, Aero of 2022 for sharing their 1st exams experience with me and to Carrot and Gru, for being my all time supports.