A complicated look at uncomplicated topics to ameliorate your day.

Surviving Exam Day

After six obligatory years of education at an unnamed secondary school and another five voluntary years of study at an unnamed university, I gathered an array of knowledge and techniques that can be used in the face of almost certain catastrophe to navigate a path through the perils of tertiary education, in particular, the much loved and adored, Exam Season.


Inherently attached to an examination is the unfettered apprehension and anxiety that many students face. For those who actually attend class, do the readings and complete the practice questions this can be attributed to their need to maintain lofty standards of perfection. For those who don’t do any or little of the above, this is can be attributed to their need to just pass the bloody subject and avoid retaking it next year. To overcome this often difficult time, there are a few applicable techniques that I used to eclipse the nerves.


So you have woken up 5 minutes before your first alarm because your body and brain know what day it is. You are in bed thinking, “shit, I must have missed my alarm, I never wake up before it”. Alas, moments later the alarm sounds and you are conscious enough to know the exam is under 90 minutes away and you are seemingly ‘on track’.

Preparation Tip No 1: Get out of bed.

For a guy, there are no thoughts of make up, outfit, shoes, hair or any other inconsequential additions that will have NO IMPACT on your exam result. For the more gentle sex, you girls probably have these first world problems to deal with too.

Preparation Tip No 2: Looks are inconsequential to results. (Unless you are sleeping with the examiner)

At this point there is only one way to avoid over-thinking the infinite possibilities that an exam may throw your way. It is called ‘Time War’. You can’t digest the milk from your cornflakes as you run over Maslow’s theory or the Healthy Living Food Pyramid. You cannot just enjoy a hot shower, you are stressed.

‘Time War’ is knowing it takes 45 minutes to leave from your driveway to arrive at your exam location. With this information at your disposal you still leave at 8.08am for the 9.00am exam.

Preparation Tip No 3: Engaging in ‘Time War’ gives you a feeling of control over something/anything in the midst of your panic. Play along.

You and your car’s clock will now be at war. You are allowing a manageable 7 minute window for something to go wrong… so, you will be fine. As you are 15 minutes into your journey you realize it is National “Ride Your Bike to Work Day”. What a cock-up that is!! Are they serious? Road closures, delays and diversions. Sa-weet!

There goes 4 minutes of the allocated cushion time. Things progress smoothly once you bypass the Tour de France. A myriad of other possibilities occur in the next 30 minutes. 8:34am Booze bus (really?), traffic accident, broken traffic lights, Vic Roads workers strike, exceptionally poor/slow driving dan lain lain.


Preparation Tip No 4: Be prepared to drive like Sebastian Vettel on the final lap of a Grand Prix. Don’t spare a thought for the other drivers, even if they are Australian.

Once you arrive at the exam location and the clock reads 8.56am, as you gained 5 minutes speeding through school zones to offset the traffic congestion, the re-assurance that your time management skills are spot on has been enlivened. You check your room number and seat number and proceed to walk to the room at a leisurely stroll as you have 90 seconds to burn. On arrival at the door you realize you cannot enter because your student card is in the car. You hoon down the stairs to your car and grab the student card and whiz back to the room. You ask the supervisor for your seat number as it has been forgotten amidst the 180m sprint just undertaken.

Preparation Tip No 5: Practice your Usain Bolt Lightning Pose so you can bring it out at victorious moments like this.

You sit down, volumes of notes and textbooks in hand. You look up and the customary reading of the exam rules and time limits is being finished. All you hear is “any questions? You may start reading!”

At this point, you are in your seat, you take 2 deep breaths, wipe the sweat from your forehead and you start the exam. I take it you have forgotten to be stressed for the exam. Time War is over and you invariably win! (except for the time the Burnley tunnel was down to one lane because of an accident and you are 30 minutes late…still got 51%).

Remember, an ‘Examination’ can be defined as;

“a formal test of a person’s knowledge or proficiency in a subject or skill.”

It is quite clear to me that each exam morning I challenge myself in a skill known as Time War. I am proficient.

Preparation Tip No 6: If you’ve won Time War, you’re already proficient. Well done. 


Exams are boring. I am not going to elucidate all of my exam tricks and tips here, well not now anyway (I suspect studying prior to the fact is a good one, but having never partaken in that I can’t confirm). Let’s just say that the fun part is running the gauntlet and winning Time War on the way.


Preparation Tip No 7: Winning Time War is just as, if not more, important than studying for the exam.

Post Exam

No point in doing the exam if you cannot celebrate. Most people have their own vices and means of celebration. I tend to take a more simple approach.

6 ice-cold Italian beers, Call of Duty Modern Warfare, beanbag, 4 hours, do not disturb!

Preparation Tip No 8: Make sure the fridge is stocked and the beanbag and the Do Not Disturb sign are in position before you leave home.


One comment on “Surviving Exam Day

  1. Alison Victoria
    November 4, 2013

    …the sneaky dan lain lain…someone knows indo!

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This entry was posted on October 30, 2014 by in Events, Life and tagged , , , , , , .

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