It’s the winter exam period now at the university, and seeing all these nervous students racing around the campus not only makes me think, “Hehehe, sucks to be you, suckers,” but also reminds me of my own “ohhhhhh shiiiiiiit” exam experience.
I have always gotten good grades in school, but trust me, I’m not smart. “But I remember her spending all her lunches in the library like a
nerd smart kid!,” my high school comrades might be thinking. Muahahahahahahaha, I tricked you! It was all a facade…and not at all due to a secret fear of somehow spilling or spraying my food on a cool kid (you’ve seen my luck with pickles) and dealing with what would have been an end-of-the-world travesty. It was all a facade…Yes, let’s go with that.
So, how did I get good grades if I’m not smart? I will credit my mom with teaching me this–presentation is everything. And I will further credit my babcia for instilling such values into my mom, for example, by teaching her that your house should always be clean because if you die you don’t want strangers to think you were a slob. Presentation is everything. So to get those good grades, I put a LOT of effort into making it look like I put a LOT of effort into my work. This explains why my marks were lower in subjects like math and science where you can’t disguise your lack of effort with a clever title page or glitter glue or wearing a costume. People tell me I’m creative, but I think the more accurate word is crafty.
I’ve also always somehow been able to get through school by doing assignments and studying at the last minute. “I work better under pressure,” I’d say. And maybe I do like the thrill of the looming deadline. But mostly, I’d rather condense what should have been several weeks worth of work into one intense night. You know, to cut down on any disruption to my television viewing. (I’ll note here, for the sake of my parents’ reputations, that this was my method of getting through school AFTER high school and I was out on my own. I’m sure they’re disappointed to learn I turned into such a wild child. Watching tv and getting my homework done on time…WILD!)
In university, I once pulled an all-nighter doing a final project due the next morning for a Sociology of Advertising class. I should have been working on it all semester. Pssh. It was a project on advertising (or something), so I decided to disguise my lack of substantial research by turning the project into a magazine! (Advertising–magazine–get it?!) I took pictures of myself posing like a model wearing ridiculous things to accompany the body of the project, which I wrote in magazine-speak instead of in MLA essay format, and with a lot of cutting and pasting (I’m talking literal cutting and pasting, like a four-year-old), I somehow ended up with a magazine.
I wish I should show you pictures of this masterpiece, but oh wait, I can’t. Why? I’ll tell you why. Because the professor requested to keep it as a shining example of brilliant work to show her future students for generations to come, THAT’S why! She also gave me 100% on the project, which she said she had never done before in all her years of teaching.
Smart? No. Crafty? Yes….. *strums fingers together like Mr. Burns*
This leave-it-to-the-last-minute-and-somehow-you’ll-succeed mentality didn’t work all the time though.
One semester in university, I was taking a sociology course with a professor who was kind of a joke. He had tenure and had been around for ages and I think was just starting not to care. He would sometimes put his own name in as a multiple choice answer:
1. Who invented sociology?
a) Your mom
b) Auguste Comte
c) Professor McTeachington
d) a and c but not b
He was my favourite professor.
Since I hadn’t been doing all the textbook readings throughout the semester (ok, ANY), I was forced to catch up right before the midterm exam. I crammed a semester’s worth of reading into one night. I was pretty proud of myself and actually feeling confident going into the exam.
The first section was multiple-choice based on the lectures. I attended all the lectures so I breezed through that section. The second section was short answer, also based on the lectures. No big deal. I flipped to the back page: the essay portion. I read through the questions, painfully, realizing as I got further and further down the page that I couldn’t answer a single one. They were based on the textbook readings. What the heck? I did all the readings last night and they are fresh in my mind. Why don’t I recognize anything?
I studied the wrong textbook.
In my defense, I was taking three sociology courses that semester and they were pretty similar in content.
That’s not helping.
I’m an idiot.
So, with my heart thumping and mind racing, I let my head hang until my forehead rested on the desk. What the hell am I going to do? The questions were so specific to the textbook and weren’t about anything we had discussed in class. I’d literally be making things up trying to answer them. I couldn’t BS my way through with big, fancy words like “furthermore” and “indubitably.”
Oh, and did I mention the essay portion was worth 40% of the exam?
My thought process: Let’s see. Even if I get perfect on the first two sections, which is not likely, I can’t get more than 60% on the exam. Maybe if I make things up and put lots of effort into the essay questions, the professor will feel sorry for me and throw me a few pitty marks even though my answers are wrong. But my mark in the class will still drastically drop. I should just accept the consequences and learn a lesson from this. I’ve screwed myself over.
*Lightbulb* I whipped my head back into place. I have a plan. I gave what I had completed of my exam the ol’ once-over before confidently striding to the front of the classroom and placing it on the desk. With a giant smile, I said, “Merry Christmas!” to my professor and marched out the door.
I raced home to my computer. If this was going to work, urgency was key. I opened my email account and began writing an email. It went a little something like this:
You might recall me as the first person to finish my exam this evening. I was very confident about how it went…until I just caught up with one of my classmates after the exam. She asked me how I answered one of the essay questions, and I had no idea what she was talking about! That’s when I realized…I didn’t flip to the back page. I missed the entire essay portion.
I can’t believe I did something so stupid and I understand if there is nothing you can do about it. But is there any way you could let me write the essay portion to complete the exam? I have been doing well in your class and I’m ashamed of my carelessness.
Please let me know what you think.
Later that evening, he responded. Something like this:
Sure! No prob! We’ll arrange a time the first week back from holidays. No worries! Merry Christmas! (Ok, he didn’t actually talk like that, but that’s how nonchalant he was about it.)
How I felt:
So not only did I fool my professor, and not only did I beat the ever-so-stringent system that is university exams, but I had almost an entire month to prepare for the essay portion. AND I had already seen the essay questions! But surely he wouldn’t give me the same questions, knowing that I could have found them out from my classmates…
I aced it.
Who said I’m not smart?
See you in hell.