Saturday, December 17, 2005


The mid-year exam

There's something curiously soothing about watching 300 people write an exam that you don't have to write. I generally did pretty well on exams as an undergraduate, but I always hated that spike of anxiety, that moment when you first flip over the exam sheet and see the questions and think "OH CRAP, THAT THING I DIDN'T STUDY IS TOTALLY ON THERE," etc.

The Ice Arena was very quiet, and very warm. Being an invigilator got pretty boring after the first hour or so. We wandered back and forth between the desks, handing out extra booklets to those who needed them, answering questions, and keeping an eye out for cheating -- although, really, how do you cheat on a philosophy exam? What are you going to do, write Camus' response to the absurdity of life on the palm of your hand?

It was a three-hour exam, and we sat round guessing how many people would be left at the 3-hour mark. Some left after only half an hour; there were still dozens of people writing after 2 hours; with 15 minutes left, there were about 9 people, most of them shuffling papers and pulling on their coats. At 10:00, there was exactly one guy left, right at the back of the hall, still furiously scribbling. He looked stressed when the prof went over to him and told him to wrap it up; as he walked towards the front, he paused and flipped his book open and quickly scrawled an addendum to one of his answers.

And now the undergrads are all off for Christmas, and I have to mark a stack of 56 exams. Oh, joy. And their essays, too, which I've made little headway on yet. I haven't written much here about running tutorials, because it seems weird to blog about my students. I'll just say this, though: My students rock. I really hope they did well on this exam.


Blogger Wrenkin said...

Is that York?

6:27 p.m., December 17, 2005  
Blogger Nadia said...


1:31 p.m., December 18, 2005  
Anonymous Eva said...

I just spent two whole days marking 4th year assignments just so they could have it back before tomorrow, when they have their exam, and then I get to mark even MORE. It never ends!

10:29 p.m., December 19, 2005  
Anonymous PC said...

And now for a totally juvenile comment:
"Invigilating" still sounds vaguely... naughty.
P. "Beavis and Butthead" C.

1:08 a.m., December 20, 2005  
Blogger Nadia said...

Ha! =) In fact, I mentioned the exam at a dinner party on Saturday, and one of the women there said she's always thought "invigilating" was a terribly sexy word! She said an ex-girlfriend of hers was a grad student and had a British accent, and it just made her all tingly when the girlfriend said she had to go "invigilate" at an exam.

I don't know what you people are thinking, but the root word of "invigilate" is "vigil," i.e. we keep a vigil over those diligent exam-writers. We watch vigilantly for cheaters. It's all perfectly innocent. ;)

2:27 a.m., December 20, 2005  
Anonymous HiMY SYeD [] said...

If at first you don't succeed -- cheat!

10:18 a.m., December 24, 2005  
Anonymous pc said...

Hmmm... now that I think of it, diligent rolls off the tongue too... "diligently invigilating" - positively scintillating!

ok - watching too many Christmas movies in a row and getting silly...

12:11 a.m., December 25, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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9:08 a.m., November 14, 2009  

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