Friday, December 2, 2005

Oh My God, It's Coming From Inside the Building....

What is coming from inside the building?  Other than the smell of teen spirit, what we are sensing now in our school is the overwhelming, air-deadening atmosphere of panic.  The air literally seems heavier, the students seem more frantic, and the library's usual productive hum seems more ominous.  In a (perhaps) sympathetic reaction, computers are crashing left and right.  It reminds me of all the plagues we talk about during Passover:  what next, locusts?

What is it all about?  You guessed it: exam time is here!  Just four more shopping days until the first exam and the hallways are abuzz (not decked with holly).  My advice to students is to get out.  Get out of the library and out of the building.  Find a place to study where no one knows your name and no one else is studying for the same exam.  Why?  Because the din in the library created by other people boasting about what they are studying (or, even worse, not studying) is enough to make you crazy and being in a blind panic is time consuming.

I also advise students that this is a good time to wish your fellow study group colleagues well and set them free until after exams.  Study groups are a great idea before and after exams, but during exams they may be fraught with emotional baggage you do not have time to carry.  Also, the person in your study group who always had those fabulous, off-the-wall ideas during the semester may just be wrong.

This may be a good time to indulge in superstitions as well.  I don't mean that students should necessarily set up blazing altars in the exam rooms, but rather, more along the lines of buying pens and pads they like, eating their favorite cookies and carrying around small (non-toxic, non-flammable) lucky items.  For me it was a stuffed Snuffy (from Sesame Street, and you try spelling the whole name!) that my husband gave me as his first gift to me while we were dating.

My freshman year psych professor taught us that it takes two hours away from material to truly memorize it and I've clung to that fact ever since.  So, to help students benefit from this little known fact, I keep a list of "exam movies" ready for those who need a two-hour break.  They are all insanely funny (at least I think so) ways of letting those cases move from short-term to long-term memory.  My favorite:  History of the World, Part I (Mel Brooks and a musical!).

As for me, I will be in my office with my (increased) supply of tissues and chocolate waiting for the battle fatigued to come on in.  Good luck on exams to all, and to all a good night.  (ezs)

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