The exam room is a weird place, it comes in many different forms. You could be in the freezing cold sports hall, the languages classroom you had no idea existed until you got your exam timetable, or the main hall that also doubles up as a canteen and if Tanya hasn’t swept the floor properly, there’ll be a chip or two under your desk.
However if the environment isn’t off-putting enough, you’ll have it's inhabitants to deal with as well. Whether it’s the girl who has the same initials as you which means you’re sat next to her in literally every exam, or the guy that you've never seen or heard of before. There are many personalities in an exam room and they can be more distracting than your Mum deciding to quickly run the vac round during a revision session.
So let’s address these personalities right now and give you a glimpse at some of the people you may bump into while trying to recall what that last flash card had on it.
1. The question asker
You’ve barely sat down and already someone has their hand in the air. What could they possibly want this early in an exam? ‘This is the most important two hours off my life and someone has the nerve to show up without a pen!’ ‘They can’t need the loo already?’ ‘Are they in the wrong exam!?’ These are all valid questions, and probably more important than whatever they’re asking. But don’t let their questions make you lose your focus.
At least they’re having a better time than…
2. The worrier
You thought you were having a bad time with question one. This guy looks like he’s having the worst time of his life. He has the facial expression of someone who has just listened to every Adele album back to back but has also just remembered they’ve left their front door wide open. Just tell yourself it can’t possibly be that bad!
You’ll need to, especially when you see…
3. The workhorse
Half an hour in and they’re yet to surface for air. They’re flying through it as if they’ve been asked something trivial like write down a list of animals you see in the zoo, not recall two years of key words and complex theories. The truth is, just because they haven’t stopped writing doesn’t mean what they’re putting to paper is any good. For all you know they could have listed a unicorn, the dodo and Loch Ness monster! Just assume that this is the case, not letting their over-confidence knock yours.
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There is, of course, the other end of the scale…
4. The one that does nothing
They’re just sat there, not a movement, nothing. They may be asleep. There’s a chance the ticking second hand on the clock has hypnotised them. They could also be that confident in their own ability that they can waste the first 45 minutes of an exam. As tempting as it may be to throw a rubber at them or whisper their name, you have to let them be and hope they have a plan. Hey, at least they’re being quiet.
5. The desk wobbler
Do they even realise what they are doing? Just because they’re not speaking doesn’t mean they’re not making a noise! Just a little wobble, every couple of minutes or so. As soon as your next train of thought starts they bring it to a screeching halt. It’s probably safe to put up your hand and ask the invigilator to intervene, if they haven’t done so already. It could just be that one of Tanya’s stray chips needs dislodging.
Everybody feels the pressure in an exam and everybody has their own way of dealing with it. Be that asking for a new pen as you don’t like the one you’re working with or writing everything that’s in your head down on paper. We’re all probably one of the above. But the only person in that class room, or sports hall, which is going to affect your final mark, is you. So stay focused on the exam. Try not to let your thoughts wander to what the person with their hand up is asking, or what the person doing nothing is thinking about.
And don’t panic, at least you’re not…
6. The one who didn’t show up