Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Exam Blues

This morning, I was invigilating my SNHU students at their Finals – What am I talking about? I am invigilating this whole week – and one of these exam papers was ACC202 Managerial Accounting. I have not seen so many students wearing so many facial expressions before – there were those that portray alarm, anxiety, dismay, distress, perplexity, and panic. And you can feel their heightened sense of stress because many of them were endlessly patronizing the toilet. During exam invigilation, we are duty-bound to escort students when they leave the exam hall – so the unceasing visits took a toll on us since there are only 3-4 of us at any one time. I daresay if we had collected 50 cents for every toilet visit, all of the invigilators could have a very nice and expensive lunch. I wonder if relieving oneself does help to reduce nervous tension. Maybe not because there are those students who made repeat visits – which meant that that they were likely to be hyper-stressed! I know these students and I believe they will all pass the exam. Methinks, it’s just a case of exaggerated exam trauma – granted that this particular exam paper is tough and it is really taxing their brain cells. Lecturer Alex Lim has earned the distinction of producing challenging exam questions for the Finals – senior students will surely attest to this.

It is the same with me. SNHU seniors often discourage other students from enrolling in my classes, especially those students who aspire to chalk up A's – because fairly or unfairly, I have this supposed reputation of not making it easy for students to earn A's even if they can pass my papers. I hasten to add that this is not true – if students merit an A, they will have their A, it is as simple as that! Most times, we forget that to get even an A-minus, you need 80 marks at least; to get an A, you need 86 marks and above. Perhaps I should quote Perry Paxton: “Excellence is in the details. Give attention to the details and excellence will come”. I have told my students umpteenth times that to excel – you need to explain, expound, and elaborate, hence details are important! Whether answering essay-type questions or addressing case studies, it is not enough to just skim the surface; it is expected for students to discuss in depth when giving answers. This is my exam tip!

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