Calm down dear, it’s only Exam Term!

15 June 2009

Overdosing on Modafinol or sobbing into your revision notes won’t help you this summer, just relax!

Until recently, I was sure that there were certain things that would always remain constant in this world. Jade Goody would always be a racist, media-craving bully despised by all; the FTSE 100 would continue to print money for shits and giggles; and we’d never return to the death penalty in this country – unless you’re walking away from riot police with your hands in your pockets (or jumping an underground turnstile for that matter).

The past year may have shattered our illusions somewhat, but you can rest assured that the playful bubble that is Cambridge University will restore order somewhat come exam term. For if there is one constant, it’s that at this point every year, Cambridge transforms from a rational pinnacle of educational enlightenment into a cooking pot of stresses, strains and outdated “old school” attitudes. Granted, we all need to work a bit harder in exam term, but there are many ways in which our burdens are added to; such as the irritating way in which we all get on each other’s mammary glands.

People fall into neat categories during exam term: There’s the “Brooding Swot”, the “Tearful Terror” and then there’s everyone else. The brooding swot is the person you spend all year knowing is slightly (or significantly) better at your subject than you are without even trying. As a result, you issue an epic (albeit secret) victory dance every time you chance a first on an essay and he scrapes by with a 2:1. This colossal phallus appears to spend his every waking moment in the library and is more than happy to tell you that he’s done 14 hours of work today, minus the 30 seconds in which he forced down breakfast, lunch and dinner and the 10 seconds he spent shitting it out again.

Of course it’s about as truthful as an MP’s expenses form, and similarly, he probably spent the majority of it watching porn. In fact, you know he’s definitely not doing much because every five seconds he logs into Facebook to write a shit innuendo about how he’s awesome at “sexual offences” – unfortunately RedTube won’t be so helpful with the rest of his criminal law revision.

The “Tearful Terror” meanwhile, is the other person you know who’s better than you at your subject, but has a different strategy to revision. She knocks on your door every five seconds in floods of tears, wailing that she’s going to fail, and mummy will never love her again. This infuriates you because popular exam term wisdom has kicked in and if there’s one thing you know for sure, it’s that crying is a waste of revision time.

Despite the tears, you both know she spent the rest of the year gleefully riding out the awkward silences in supervisions, just so she could dive in at the last minute with the right answer and make you look about as useful as a cheese flavoured condom. Moreover, she spends her time trying to convince you she’s done nothing at all, which you find about as convincing as a holocaust denier (i.e. not very), given the chirpy factoids you get if you’re stupid enough to spend more than five minutes with her.

The rest of us, however, hurriedly attempt to learn whatever we never bothered to in the first place, and spend the majority of our time becoming expert procrastinators. Whatever your tipple; be it BBC iPlayer, Facebook, online poker, drinking cups of tea, spending four hours making an elaborate revision planner which you’ll never use or crying in a corner, the difference between the amount of time you worked for compared to that of your peers is ultimately measurable in minutes not hours.

Therefore this exam term we should all… 1. Laugh in the face of anyone who tells us to clock up more hours than Boris Johnson can count to; 2. Laugh in the face of anyone who tries to tell you Cambridge’s suicide rate is higher than its failure rate; 3. Lamp anyone who tries to convince you (including the national press) that everyone, everywhere is taking modafinil; 4. Calm down; 5. Chill out; and maybe then think about getting some work done.
Dan Rourke is a 2nd year Law student and TCS Sport Editor.