There’s Only One Reason I’m Scared To Go Back To In-Person Classes, And It’s Exams

When was your last in-person test? Mine was over a year and a half ago now, and I barely remember what it was like. The last-minute studying, the shaky hands and audible heartbeat as the teacher hands out the papers, and the eager flip of the test as they scream, “Go!” — those memories are all fading quickly. Don’t get me wrong; I wouldn’t like to rehash those moments. But there’s something quite daunting about forgetting what it’s actually like to take exams, especially when all of that high school work was meant to be in preparation for university. Our teachers would constantly say, “You better learn how to study properly if you want to succeed in university,” and, “There’s no room for error after high school.” But nobody thought the stresses of exams would ease when we finally did get to university. 

Because here’s the truth: as much as exams are still challenging, online tests do not come close to the pressure of in-person ones. Even in closed-book or proctored online tests, there are still comforts that we wouldn’t have in person, including taking it in our own rooms, with our own computers, and at whatever time of day we please. There’s no worries about the person sitting next to you distracting you, the temperature not being right, or even needing a pee break (I’ve done this several times in online exams and I’m only in my second semester of university). Not to mention, regardless of the rules put in place by a professor, it is still relatively easy to cheat, if that’s your style. The point is: online exams are a whole lot easier. 

For the meantime, this isn’t a bad thing; it has actually relieved a lot of stress for my second set of finals at university. Also, online classes in general have taught us to become more organized and responsible, and the flexibility of classes allows us to prioritize and complete tasks efficiently. But the problem is not about today; it’s about when in-person classes resume. As much as I’m excited to return to in-person learning (I’ve had enough of Zoom lectures), I just know I’ll be lost when exam season rolls around. Entering university is one thing, but starting second year after a much simpler first year and a super easy end to high school is a completely new and unprecedented thing.

Zoom call on computer in classroom Photo by Lucas Law from Unsplash So, what should we do about this problem? I’ve thought about this a lot recently and I have come up with a few solutions. Firstly, it is important to remember that we’re all in the same boat. Everyone’s memory of in-person classes is a bit hazy, thanks to the long period of time we have spent learning in a more casual and laid-back manner. When in-person classes do resume, we will have the support of our professors and peers, as it will be an adjustment for everyone. 

Secondly, I have begun telling myself to take life one day at a time. Worrying about something far in advance is unnecessary, and just provokes negative feelings when we could be living in the moment. And that’s coming from me, a massive worrier! Even though the shift to in-person classes does concern me now, there is a good chance that taking exams is like riding a bike — muscle memory will kick in and we will be fine. So, for this exam season, enjoy the benefits of online school and keep your fingers crossed that we’ll be able to learn in person next semester!