Saturday, December 16, 2006

Gordon on Exams, Part 3 of 4

[Editor's note: Although this section is somewhat outdated as far as technology, the anxiety described is unfortunately spot on.]

Then the two-week exam period begins in earnest, and the typical student begins to feel like a nine-lived cat run over by an eighteen-wheeler. To take their minds off the crush of exams, students engage in a variety of activities, such as:
Trying to concentrate while panicking.
Having anxiety attacks while panicking.
Having diarrhea while panicking.
Panicking while panicking.

I strongly recommend that you type your exams instead of writing them. There are several advantages to typing. For instance, you can bring a "memory *1694 typewriter," and when the exam begins you can push a button and your typewriter will reproduce your entire outline. This is very handy.

You might find it a little difficult to concentrate in the typing room, because all those typewriters pounding together sound like a herd of elephants doing an impersonation of Gregory Hines. If somebody starts typing before you have even finished reading the first paragraph, don't get upset. It probably means nothing, except that someone is a genius and how are you supposed to compete with a genius and what are you doing in law school anyway!!! Take a deep breath. Take several deep breaths. Now you are hyperventilating and are going to pass out. Cease breathing.

The sound of the typewriters is not the only reason you're having trouble concentrating. You have not slept or eaten for two days. Also, you have not changed your clothes or bathed for a week, and things are beginning to get a little bit itchy. You are wearing a hat to hide the fact that your hair looks like the La Brea tar pits.

Try to hum a tune (to yourself, so that the person next to you doesn't bash you on the head with his typewriter) to help yourself relax. Suddenly--and you have never noticed this before--you realize that "La Bamba" has exactly the same chord progression as "You've Lost That Loving Feeling" and "Twist and Shout." This will probably be hard to do, but let it go for now. You can think about it later--like during your next exam. Twist a little closer to your typewriter, and try to write something quasi-intelligent. Do not shout.If there is a power failure or your typewriter breaks, don't panic. Calmly remove the paper from the typewriter, gently pick up a pen, and scrawl across the page in ink mixed with blood: "TYPEWRITER BROKE!!!! I WRITE NOW!!!!"

Then pass out. To avoid power and equipment failures, you might want to bring in a wheeled cart with about seventeen extra typewriters and a twelve-volt car battery. Better yet, drive a pickup truck full of typewriters into the exam room and open the hood for access to the battery. It would be thoughtful to place a drip pan under the transmission. Also, be sure that the carriage on your typewriter is working, so that you don't end up typing 2,000 letters in one very black spot. This can make your answer hard to read.

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