Yesterday morning I sat my first exam in a year and a half (my year abroad last year was all assessed by essay) and it was a gruelling three hours long. Not only that, it was also ‘seen’, which is the first time I’ve ever done an exam like that. What does it mean? It means you are given the questions beforehand- strange right? The exam questions were put up online 48 hours before we sat the exam, which meant I had two days to prepare my answers.
When I first heard about this method of assessment, I was quite sceptical. Is that not kind of a cop out? What is the point- couldn’t we just do an essay? The day before the questions came out I found myself in the library making notes quite lethargically, considering I had an exam in 3 days time! One English student I spoke to said “dare I say it, but is this too easy?”
Well, I think the answer to that I can now assure you is a resounding no! Although I was less stressed before the questions were published because there didn’t seem an urgency, once the questions came out it was like being in an exam for 48 hours! There was a lot of pressure, and from what I’ve heard that is the unanimous opinion. I spent my first day making a plan from the notes I had, and then on the second day I wrote out my answers and then reduced them down to quotes I tried to memorise. It was definitely nerve-wracking, BUT actually there were definitely positives as well. The fact that I’d been working on my dissertation over Christmas meant I hadn’t managed to prepare as much as usual, so in that respect having a seen exam helped. I also know I wrote better answers than I would have in an exam, and I got to grips with the texts better. For me that was a real plus, because it meant the texts weren’t completely ruined for me by being tested on them. And there were slightly fewer nerves before walking into the exam itself, because I knew I’d be able to at least write something, which has to be the biggest fear factor in normal exams.
It’s definitely an interesting new way to be assessed- definitely not easier than a normal exam! But the good news is that it’s done now, so I’m going to take it easy until classes start again for next (my last!) semester on Monday. I’m feeling a bit apprehensive about the next few classes I’ve got, because I’m heading into ‘Modernism’ territory- something I’m never sure I got my head around. So I’ll be blogging soon to let you know my thoughts on the new texts. Bye for now!