By Kazuya Muto
You might have noticed that these days, my articles tend to revolve around study. That's because most of my time these days is spent studying.
Recently I sat for my biggest mid-term exam. It was for business and the exam was 25 percent of my final grade. In business, I'm studying "organizational behavior," which looks into how a person behaves in certain organizations and how you might motivate that person. It's a difficult subject, more akin to psychology than business, and so there were a lot of terms to remember.
One good thing, though, was that my exam was multiple choice. Better still, the lecturer said all international students could bring a dictionary (but not an electronic dictionary) into the exam. I was thrilled. I thought I could definitely pass. But I didn't let up with the study. The day before the exam, I even sat up reading all night.
On the day, I went to the classroom and sat myself down. There were more than 300 people there. Most of them were still reading their textbooks, which were worn out and filled with underlining. Some were just smiling and chatting to each other. I was a little daunted by this. Perhaps I should have studied harder.
The lecturer entered and started explaining about the exam. I didn't pay much attention. I was too worried about the exam. All I heard was that we had five minutes reading time and that the exam would be one hour long.
The five minutes of reading time went by like lightning. Before I knew it, the lecturer (who was now the only relaxed person in the room) was saying, "OK, guys. You can turn over your papers now."
I looked at the first question and froze. I couldn't understand the first question. I moved onto the next question. I couldn't understand the next question either. Each question had five answers to choose from. That sounds easy, but the problem was that both the question and the answers were very long and very confusing! It would have been easier simply writing answers to the questions than choosing from the answers.
Twenty minutes into the exam, the lecturer said, "Guys, if you're finished, you can go." I looked up and was surprised to see a quarter of the students leaving. Forty minutes later, the lecturer said the same thing again, and more students left. Only half of the students were left!
I started to panic. I had to speed up. Otherwise I'd never get to the end. There was no time to use the dictionary now.
About five minutes before the end, I changed my strategy and started guessing. I started choosing the longer answers because I remembered reading somewhere that examiners enjoyed hiding their correct answers in longer sentences. But then I remembered that the person who had set this exam was from the psychology department, so he probably already knew that. My heart sank.
I came out of the classroom, a broken man. Normally, I have some confidence that I've done reasonably well, but this time, I had no confidence at all. People around me started checking answers with one another. I didn't want to join in, but unfortunately one of my friends came up to me and said, "How did you go, Kazu?" "So so," I said and fled.
Shukan ST: Sept. 29, 2006
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