Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Examinations

There is a Seinfeld quote, about horse racing. He talks about the way human beings race on horses. They whip the horses and make it run fast. The horses think there is some kind of an emergency and begin to run really fast. Only to find in the end that when it has circled the field it has ended right where it started. So Seinfeld imagines what the horses would be indeed thinking - "we were just here. We were here 5 minutes ago. What was the point of the whole rush.". I think the Seinfeld discussion applies to exams also. I wrote 2 exams in the last week that evoked opposite emotions. In an exam, where you know stuff but think you may not have the time to finish the exam, you are racing against time, your heart is beating fast, you are rapidly calculating stuff. There seems to be an "emergency mentality" reigning in your mind. There is a rush and rapidness to everything you do. It is almost as if you are completely lost in your own world. Then the bell rings, time is up and the exam is over. You wake up from this event and look around you. You are still sitting in the same table, your shirt is not even ruffled that much. Nothing in the outside world has changed. But it looks as if you went through a mental journey of escaping an earthquake. You suddenly feel the sudden disconnect between the mention journey and the physical journey (or lack of it). You tend to think, "what was the point, I am here where I was 1 hour before. Nothing has changed. 5 minutes before things looked like an emergency. Every second was worth a million dollars. Now I have 6 hours to spare and a second is of no value"

The other exam reminded me of the Engineering Electromagnetics exam we wrote in our 3rd semester under grad. 10 minutes into the exam, most students started looking around the class with silly smiles. The whole exam was a "problem paper" as opposed to the tradionally expected "theory paper". We were caught off-guard, ambushed. Then began the process of putting together, whatever BS we could and throw it into that answer paper. The same thing happened recently. We stared into this thing called the "question paper" and didn't have a clue what was going one. Heads turned around and smiles were exchanged as if to say "what the hell...". Then the 2 hours looked like a long marathon. I was guilty to get up and leave. I felt the compulsion write whatever I could thnk of. So every minute looked like an hour. I waited for the clock to finally turn over and the invigilator say "time up".

Exams are funny!

5 comments:

Ram said...

Engineering papers at Madras University are really tricky. They tend to ask theory questions on problem papers and vice versa.
I remember one particular paper, DSP where no one knew what was going on...and some people even stood up and said "Wrong question paper sir! "
That paper was declared a tough paper and the evaluators where asked to correct leiniently! My narrowest of escapes...a 50!!

Prabhu S said...

Hi Bharat,

I have had those examination nightmares many times. I particularly remember the 'Microwave Engineering' paper which I had no clues on how to answer. Somehow I filled the answer booklet with all I knew about the subject hoping I might just clear it.Surprisingly I did !

Hema said...

Cant agree more with u on this. Nice thought, well college exams for me was always all about equality. All of us were the toppers as the top and the bottom scores were the same...better still "BUNK IT"

///slash\\\ said...

Hey hawkeye...
nice post...
just one thing : exams are'nt all that funny when the results come out....

p.s loved the seinfield analogy...

Anonymous said...

Bharath ,

just like it happened for you with EM it happened with my DSP paper and unfortunately i enjoyed it a lot.( i got the max ) i agree with EM though , that the problems are not as easy to attack as with DSP.
also i liked the exchange of smiles to indicate "what the hell "

--- sriki123