Diary of an exam candidate, aged 1634

17th June 2005 at 01:00
A month of national exams is over and the long wait for pupils to get their results has begun. So, how was it? One Higher student tells us

Saturday May 7

I never thought I would say this but it is nine o'clock on a Saturday night and I am thinking about thinking about doing revision.

In all honesty, this is what takes up most of my time. Not the actual work: that can sometimes be easy once you get going. The hard bit is getting past that awkward, stubborn refusal to look at, not to mention pick up, a textbook.

Sometimes I am vaguely successful and I may sit with my books laid out all around me. The television is just background noise because, of course, I am as focused as a dart. (Please excuse the cliched metaphor. I have not yet studied enough to think of a good one.) Sometimes, during these particular study sessions, I can tell myself that I have achieved a good hour's revision and didn't pay a single bit of attention to the fascinating storyline of this week's episode of The OC I The Higher English exam is only a few days away, so I'd better get some revision done.

Friday May 13

The English Day of Doom

I am not a superstitious person. This, however, has not stopped me from scanning ebay for any rabbits' feet, four-leafed clovers or any other sort of lucky talisman. Surprisingly enough, you can buy 12 rabbits'

feet (in assorted colours) from the American ebay website for only $5.

Waiting to go into the exam, I had to avoid several groups of people. There were the neurotic worriers, who were getting so nervous that anyone who went near would become equally nervous.

There were the groups who were chanting quotes, which might have been useful had it not been that they were Othello quotes, which I had not studied and yet got stuck in my head as soon as they reached my ears.

The third group I had to avoid were the calm, laid-back group. They were so certain of their A band one passes that to hear them talk in their sickeningly calm voices threatened to send me off to the first group I had avoided.

This was the majority of the fifth years' first exam and as we entered the hall the tension was unbearable. People scrambled to find their seat and not be the last standing and nervously checked that the five pens they had brought had not broken or run out.

The close reading paper was given out and when our invigilator told us to turn it over, there was a multitude of inaudible groans. The paper that the SQA had given Higher English pupils on Friday the 13th was entitled "Comets and Asteroids".

Both the close reading and critical essay papers talked of how an asteroid or comet may just come along one day and wipe out the entire human race.

Thank you, SQA. What a lovely topic. I don't think I could have chosen better.

Monday May 16

My next exam is a week tomorrow. I am one of the lucky ones. I still have eight days to prepare for Higher physics. Others are not so lucky.

A friend of mine has three exams this week, and will have finished all her exams by next Thursday. Although I envy her swiftness of completion, I think that I definitely needed this time.

I have been sifting through my booklets and textbooks, and more than once have been heard to exclaim: "When did we learn that? I don't remember that!"

This last-minute attitude to revision may lead some of you to think I am just someone who isn't very bright or who can't apply herself. I was going to refute that, but actually, thinking about it, you may be right. I do find it hard to apply myself this year.

Everyone I have spoken to is having similar problems. We are all still on cloud nine from passing our Standard grades and marvelling at our cleverness for getting all credit marks, so we have floated through this year in a daze, until we went on exam leave and then it was like "What exams?"

Today I am going to have a little nostalgic look over my Standard grade certificate and then sit down and try to learn some of my physics formulae.

Tuesday May 24

Higher physics exam day

Physics this year was my hardest subject and it is now the subject for which I feel best prepared. The challenge made me work that bit harder and, to be honest, I enjoyed it.

After today's exam, I felt all right. I wasn't looking back and wishing I had answered a question I left, because I actually answered them all.

I really hope that I can get a B. An A would make me ecstatic, but I think a B is a more achievable grade.

Now I only have modern studies and drama left. A bit of cramming is definitely in order.

Saturday May 28

I have been up since the crack of dawn. I got up very early so that I could study. I did this to try to make up for the studying which I should have been doing on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

I have tried to revise modern studies, I really have, but the long gap in between the English and physics exams has made me apathetic. I have lost all of my concentration and I can't face any more diagrams on voting systems.

I blame this on the long break but, if I am honest, that is only partly the problem.

In Standard grade, modern studies was probably my best subject. I was in a class with people who neither cared nor listened to what the teacher was saying, so I ended up being one of those annoying know-it-alls whom the teacher asked when no one else volunteered an answer. And I enjoyed that. I really liked being the "clever one" of the class. So much so that when I entered Higher, I pushed modern studies to the back of my mind as an easy subject.

I was very wrong. I was so wrong that I am now awake at 7am, trying to cram all of this extra knowledge into my head before Monday's exam. "Fail to prepare, prepare to fail."

Monday May 30

Higher modern studies exam

Higher modern studies is over now. One more exam to go.

I would be happy except for the fact that I have most definitely screwed up my modern studies paper. The first paper was fine; it was the decision making exercise that did for me. For the first time I really understood the meaning of my teacher's words "Fail to prepare, prepare to fail". This was because the whole of the second paper centred on an issue which I had no idea about. I can't even remember learning it in the first place.

With this negative feeling looming over me, can I really revise for drama on Wednesday? The answer is no. I think I will have a little rest and then work solidly tomorrow.

Wednesday June 1

Drama exam

Today is my last exam and I have lost all momentum. I feel as if I have already finished and that I am at home base. Maybe this is the reason why I am not really looking over my texts and not revising my quotes.

To be fair, I think I know them quite well as it is, but even if I didn't, I don't think I would have the will power to apply myself properly.

As long as good questions come up, I should be fine.

Thursday June 2


Drama was OK: not extremely easy but not horrifyingly hard.

Questions came up that I was prepared for. I even managed to leave 10 minutes early.

So, all of my exams are over. Note the lack of exclamation mark. This is because I am not really that excited. I think I am suffering from some sort of post-exam syndrome.

The symptoms are very obvious. The patient usually walks around the house when they wake up at about 10 o'clock. The patient wanders around thinking "What do I do now?" and contemplates picking up a textbook when they realise that they no longer have to study for anything. It is a very hollow feeling.

I am hoping that the party I am going to tomorrow night is going to rid me of this feeling, at least until I get my results in August.

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