Why you are in bad com­pany when tak­ing ex­ams

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Leisure -

BY pop­u­lar de­mand, I have been re­quested to re­visit the sub­ject of writ­ing ex­ams. Rea­son be­ing it is that time of the year when my sym­pa­thies go out to all those about to en­dure this form of in­tel­lec­tual tor­ture. I have al­ways en­ter­tained the thought that peo­ple who set ex­am­i­na­tions are sadists. They en­joy in­flict­ing pain on oth­ers. This is where the adage, “No Pain, No Gain” has cur­rency. As part of my com­mu­nity ser­vice and hu­man­i­tar­ian ges­ture to all those exam suf­fer­ers, I will of­fer my two cents’ worth of ad­vice.

How you cope with all that study­ing and the meth­ods to bring the re­quired re­sults, will not be cov­ered here. Fall­ing short of brib­ing the ex­am­iner and the in­vig­i­la­tor, you are on your own.

I will dig from my deep re­serves of ex­pe­ri­ence on sit­ting for ex­ams, right from the pre-school (creche) en­trance exam through to the univer­sity de­gree, if you al­low me to.

We never “stud­ied” in the true sense of the word. We crammed in­for­ma­tion. In fact, this was rammed into our sup­pos­edly thick heads through the lib­eral use of the rod by our “Gestapo” trained teach­ers.

This was par­tic­u­larly so with Math­e­mat­ics, the worst sub­ject in liv­ing mem­ory. The drill was to wake up at such an un­godly hour that one would oc­ca­sion­ally bump into a witch from her noc­tur­nal mis­sion.

We were then re­quired to sing ev­ery­thing from the mul­ti­pli­ca­tion ta­ble, right down to geom­e­try. By the time the rest of the pupils trooped in, they would be won­der­ing whether we had slept there overnight.

Pass­ing Grade 7 was guar­an­teed un­der these con­di­tions. Yet it never pre­pared me for the hor­ror of high school. First, we had too many sub­jects to tackle and this I bit­terly com­plained to my fa­ther, re­cently late.

Se­condly, our crop of teach­ers were ter­ror­ists in ev­ery def­i­ni­tion of the word. Apart from par­tic­i­pat­ing in the lib­er­a­tion strug­gle, some of my teach­ers later be­came Cabi­net min­is­ters!

But that is not the point that I am try­ing to make here. High school to me was like mil­i­tary boot camp. This was the case with all board­ing schools. The cul­ture was that only blood, sweat and tears pro­duced re­sults.

Study­ing be­came an ob­ses­sive af­fair. Peo­ple read books un­til smoke came out of their ears. Some of us would go for days with­out any sleep or food. This was done with the aid of “no sleep” pills avail­able only on pre­scrip­tion, but had a thriv­ing black mar­ket sup­ply­ing them to des­per­ate pupils.

My other col­leagues, tired of cram­ming, would em­ploy baf­fling mea­sures in a near-fu­tile at­tempt to short-cir­cuit the rig­or­ous study­ing process. In this case, one would go to sleep for days with a text­book un­der the pil­low.

This was with the vein hope that through the sci­en­tific process called os­mo­sis, in­for­ma­tion would be trans­ferred from a dense medium (read text­book), to an “ex­tremely” less dense medium (the pupil’s head) overnight.

Em­pir­i­cal test­ing has failed to prove this cor­rect. Yet, some of us passed the ex­ams per­haps through di­vine or su­per­nat­u­ral in­ter­ven­tion.

Univer­sity was a whole-new ket­tle of beer, sorry, fish. Let me ex­plain. How was one ex­pected to pass when right there, smack in the mid­dle of campus, was the cheap­est bar south of the Sa­hara?

Com­ing as we did from a very clois­tered ex­is­tence at board­ing school, we lit­er­ally drowned in al­co­hol. Only to emerge oc­ca­sion­ally for air and per­haps lec­tures. Ex­ams were just an ir­ri­tat­ing for­mal­ity.

Univer­sity went by the adage: “Drink daily and pass an­nu­ally.” It was a sit­u­a­tion that would make any par­ent’s eyes water.

In­ter­est­ingly enough, it was the sober ones who could not take the pres­sure. The num­ber of stu­dents who were ad­mit­ted into the lo­cal men­tal fa­cil­ity rose alarm­ingly as exam time ap­proached. In one clas­sic case, an In­dian med­i­cal stu­dent de­cided that it could be through the di­ges­tive tract that in­for­ma­tion could be ab­sorbed. He ate sev­eral vol­umes of jour­nals, be­fore be­ing carted off to Pari hos­pi­tal to have his stom­ach pumped, en-route to SASCAM.

An­other stu­dent, who af­ter pump­ing his brains full of “aero­dy­nam­ics” thought he could put that into prac­tice. He jumped out of the third-floor win­dow of the li­brary. Rather than fly, he had to con­tend with the hard con­crete floor be­low. At least he man­aged to de­lay sit­ting for his exam by a year while his Plas­ter of Paris bound body healed.

But then I di­gress. This ar­ti­cle was sup­posed to of­fer tips on pass­ing ex­ams. When in an exam room, take a look to your right, then left, and then right again and you will dis­cover that you are not alone.

Take com­fort in that fact alone.

If you have not grasped all that you crammed by now, then you are well and truly screwed! JAH Prayzah and Di­a­mond Plat­numz hit col­lab­o­ra­tion is set to make a record break­ing run at the top of the Zim Top 10 chart. For yet an­other week, the beau­ti­fully crafted, infectious sin­gle has dom­i­nated the charts.

Be­low is this week’s chart: 10. Charm­ing Vibes — Make Sure 9. Ta­tenda Ma­hachi — Usacheme 8. Dice Ft Mussa — Silent Night 7. Bouy Tace ft Nyasha Timbe — On Me 6. Myke Pimp ft Gold Fin­gah — Run It 5. Bry­three­sixty — High­score 4. Ta­tenda Ma­hachi — Usacheme 3. Paul Martin & DJ ACE Tan­ner — Made 4 love 2. Karizma — Shisha Pipe 1. Jah Prayzah Ft. Di­a­mond Plat­numz — Wa­tora Mari

Catch the Zim Top 10 chart show ev­ery Thurs­day at 9:30PM on Zambezi Magic (DStv chan­nel 160). You can also fol­low the show on Face­book, Twit­ter, In­sta­gram and on WeChat: Zam­bez­iMag­icTV.

Jah Prayzah and Di­a­mond Plat­numz

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