My apologies if you clicked on this article, thinking that it is a review on the movie “The Final Destination”. Yet, as we approach the finals, we experience a feeling akin to the fear of watching a horror movie like The Final Destination. The movie makes you grip onto a pillow and bite your tongue as you stifle your scream. Similarly, the finals are terrifying since you either make it or you break it; mysterious as you do not know what questions to expect, with the uncertainty adding to its horror.
You know that the finals are going to be here when everyone, including yourself, is scrambling for space and seats in the libraries, the group seminar rooms, and along the corridor. There will also be an email send out from the school, to gently remind the students not to hog the seats for too long and to be considerate towards other students. Seminar rooms will be opened for the students to study in. Wherever you go, you will see students burying their heads into books or vigorously writing down or typing out their notes. Faces of despair as some students try to understand the content for the whole semester, hoping that their brains will be able to take in as much information as possible. Some may be scrolling through social media mindlessly while wishing they were anywhere but where they were at, in front of notes, notes, and more notes. Coffee and energized drinks are the staples for this crucial period.
On the grand day of the finals itself, gathering outside the examination hall with the other students, you see some of them doing last minute cramming of information as they clutch their notes tightly in their hands and reading it again and again. The fortunate ones will have their cheat sheets, but then again, it is crammed with so many points that the first word cannot be read even from near. You wonder how they are going to find the necessary information from that piece of A4 size paper. Others are chatting and laughing with their friends, maybe hoping to distract themselves and relieve some of the nervousness. How about you? You are just observing everyone’s way of handling their stress and anxiety towards facing the paper that they are going to take soon, very soon indeed. However, as the time creeps nearer and nearer to the end line, the level of tension inevitably rises, even in you.
Before you know it, you are already sitting in your pre-assigned seat and right in front of you is the question paper. Despite all the practice papers that you have done and the same old cover page that you have seen many times, the words on this particular question paper seem to be bigger and much more foreign. It is all in your mind. “You may start.”, The invigilator announces. You flip the paper open and seeing the questions you have to answer within this seemingly short period of time, your heart starts pounding and bits of sweat start to gather on your forehead, even though you are in an air-conditioned environment. With shaky hands and a trembling pen, you answer the questions with doubts, questioning things you have never questioned before in your mind.
The time passes and then “Please finish your last sentence.” This dreaded announcement makes you and most other students scramble to finish the last statement, hoping that it will secure some (pity) marks. Another fate-sealing announcement comes on, “Stop and put your pens down”. As the instructors are collecting the papers, you feel a huge sense of relief and happiness as it is finally over. However, when everyone is allowed to leave, chattering voices begin and they get louder and louder. You overhear a classmate exclaims excitedly to her friend, “My answer for question X is XXXX and I have checked with the professor, it is correct!” Your heart drops and the horrified feeling returns, sweeping your relieved feeling away. Internally, you begin to count the number of marks you have lost while praying to the bell curve god.
Above is the rollercoaster experience that most of us will go through during the period of finals. The difference between watching The Final Destination and taking the finals is that for the former, we are the audience. For the latter, we are the main characters. Even though we have gone through countless number of examinations, the feeling of underperforming and encountering unfamiliar questions still weigh on us each time.
As the rollercoaster experience of taking the finals is going to commence soon, let us sit tight and enjoy it.