Narratives

Exam terrors!

When you have spent a long time preparing for an exam, you’ll have this strange compulsion to apply for any and every exam that manages to catch your attention. (that has topics in common with the one you are preparing for) You start thinking along the lines of “Yeah. Well. Whatever. I’ve been preparing for exam X anyway, so why not give Y a shot. I’ll probably not prepare for this the next time. After all, X and Y do have something in common. How bad could it be?”. You’ll start registering for one exam after another in a frenzy. And that was exactly what I did. A few months back, I had been so full of optimism ( Also, more importantly, there was no registration fees. Perks of being a female candidate!) that I went ahead and applied for the Engineering Services Exam. Little did I know that it would be such an ordeal. ESE is an exam with fierce competition – with prospective candidates repeating over and over again in an attempt to crack the exam.

I had been debating whether I should really appear for the exam since I hadn’t really gone through any of the “extra portions”. But then, I decided to give it a go. When life gives you a chance to screw up and not regret it much, you take it! So I dragged myself up to the exam center. Despite all of this, I couldn’t help but keep checking whether I had taken everything I’d need over and over again. The silent atmosphere and the sight of I-can’t-take-my-eyes-off-the-book candidates can do that to anyone. Thankfully, a few of my friends also had the same exam center. At least I hadn’t been alone going into this. We walked up to the notice board and after staring at it for a few minutes finally managed to find our allotted rooms. With a heavy heart and my hands armed with the admit card and numerous black ball point pens, I parted ways with my friends and made my way to my own personal hell exam hall.

I had arrived well in advance for the exam. So I had a long while to really take in the atmosphere and brace myself for the ordeal that awaited me. It didn’t take me long enough to figure out that I was among the minority – the timid first-timers, while beside me, veterans made their last minute preparations. So much for giving it a shot! The alleyway and the staircase that led upstairs seemed menacingly eerie, and very carefully I made my way through the well-worn, much trudged steps. The last thing I wanted to do was to trip and fall. (To my slight disappointment) I had all the sufficient documents to gain an entry into the exam hall, which was mostly empty apart from me and six others because surprise of all surprises, most of the other candidates didn’t even turn up. I was going crazy with all that waiting. At long last, the bell rang and the I received the OMR response sheet. I suddenly had a deja vu moment – my tryst with IIT-JEE. ( I’ll save that for another post.) Shortly afterward, the question booklet was distributed and with a deep breath and a prayer to make time go fast, I set out coloring the bubbles to mark my responses. It had been a long while since I had last appeared for an OMR type exam and I took my sweet time “bubbling” my way through the answer sheet, answering the ones that I knew. After a while, my luck deserted me and so I kept glancing through the question booklet, while my brain remained as blank as the blackboard in front of me.

Unlike IIT-JEE, ESE was a bit more kind to me. Whenever I solved a question, I got an answer that was listed as one of the options, and that’s more than what I can say for my IIT-JEE exam. My answers would definitely most likely probably be correct. But due to the constraint that no candidate can leave the exam hall until the allotted time is over, I spent quite a while wonder why it was taking so long. I would stare at my watch occasionally, knowing very well that intimidating glares will not make it go any faster. I even re-bubbled my responses for good measure. Time was not going fast enough for my liking. Time has always been my enemy, never on my side when I need it. There have been times when I have run out of time, and then there I was – waiting for time to run out, just so that I could go home and recuperate. Exams like these can make you think deeply about anything other than the questions that suddenly seem even worse than Greek to you. You might even find yourself wondering about that random song that’s playing in your head. Of the 5 whole hours that I had to spend in that exam hall, I did spend quite a while wondering if maybe I had brought a lot of pens, how old the building was, the British might have constructed it, found it a bit hard to believe that such a peaceful place existed right in the midst of the city, realized that the flooring was wooden, gazed at the beautiful campus (whatever I could see through the windows), gazed up the ceiling and the dangling cobwebs for inspiration. But to no avail. Then there were times when I glanced at my response sheet to see if there was any pattern forming from all the marked responses. And I realized, ” Oh crap, that’s 4Cs in a row. Is it possible that some of the answers were..maybe.. not right?”

Finally, the moment that I had been waiting for came, and I raced out of the class after handing over my response sheet. Freedom, at last! I was so winded up that I couldn’t rest until I’d typed up this post. But hey for what it’s worth, ESE was a much better experience for me than IIT-JEE. Four years of technical education wasn’t wasted on me! Yay. 😀

P.S: But the icing on the cake, the highlight of today were my friends who organized a brief get-together and celebrated my birthday, albeit a day too late. I was so delighted to see all of you after such a long time! Thanks a lot. You guys are the best. You know who you are. Thank you for helping me to end the day on a high note! 😀

© 2017 Shweta Suresh. All rights reserved.

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