Top 10: Best forms of exam related anxiety

A classroom. Image courtesy of Pixabay.

Because who doesn’t love getting MORE instructions and/or opinions on finals week, here’s a top ten of my favorite forms of exam-anxiety. For extra spice, I’ve added a few that are more exam-depression than exam-anxiety, but who cares? Tomay-toe, toh-mah-toe.

1 – My Final is on a Day and at a Time

Your trusty sidekick, forgetfulness, and its younger sibling, Is-Time-Real-Though, both of which pop up at the most irritating times. Sure, you’ve written down the time and day of the final exam in what, three different places? It’s on all your calendars, paper and virtual. You’ve even told your mom – but you can’t be too sure, right?

2 – It Happened Once, So It’s Bound to Happen Again

One time, I was taking a language course and one of my fellow peers thought the final was later than it really was. One of us had to call him, and he rushed to the final. The exam waited for him – started a half hour late. Ever since, how many alarms do you turn on before the final? Four, five? Nope. Ten. Fifteen, if you’re feeling extra anxious – this is how roommates grow to hate you, millions of alarms blaring every morning.

3 – I Asked God to Strike Me Down, and They Listened

It’s a French test. Which means I’m just trying to memorize things correctly, and I don’t have a great memory for English, let alone French. Okay. So. I’m taking the test. And I get nauseous, right? Just a little stomach bug, no biggie. Except, next minute I’m vomiting in the bathroom. I managed to get the rest of the test done, but what if it happens again? What if I just up-chuck all over the exam? Is there a protocol for a student ruining their paper-copy via vomit? Do we want to know the answer?

4 – Do You Have an Embarrassing Ringtone? No? Don’t Worry, You Will

Listen. Listen, I don’t care what your ringtone is. I don’t care if you think it’s the best thing in the world. I don’t care if it’s a John Mulaney bit – even the one where he sings about bread and Jesus. If it goes off during finals, either everyone will laugh or glare. The professor might be chill about it, or they might take away your exam and promptly fail you. And then, you’ll never graduate… never find a job… or figure out what all of those questions in CTIs were trying to answer.

5 – You’re Allowed to Type Your Final? Time for Apple to Download Another Useless Update

Your screen goes black and doesn’t start back up. Your device runs out of battery. Your device decides to spontaneously restart, downloading a new update while it’s at it. Sometimes, if things are really bad, your laptop will let out a terrifying beeping that sounds like a dying fax machine. You don’t have your charger, and you’re just waiting for your device to die – almost worse than having it die automatically.

6 – Hand Cramps, Nature’s Intellectual Depressant

One time, a CTI instructor of mine, who preferred hand-written exams – in pen, no pencil – decided to laugh when one of his female students said her hand cramped easily, and did he have any advice for that? I didn’t know laughter was an appropriate response in a Critical-Thinking course, but what do I know? Imagine that: your hand cramps are so bad during a final, you can’t complete your exam. The professor, despite you previously believing a dialogue with them would be more intellectual than an animalistic cackle, only lets out the wailing shriek of hyena laughter. Your hands fell off during his response. You turn in your final, incomplete.

7 – There Is Only So Much Information I Can Ingest

It’s near depression at this point. You’re staring at your notes. You know them. You know the material. Every time you go over your book, your notes, your class notes, your friend’s class notes, your I’m Bored and Smart headache roars. Your anxiety screams that you’re a clueless fraud, but you’re too busy falling asleep to notice.

8 – There Is Only So Much Information I Can Ingest Part 2: The Loathing

I’ll be frank. We have all taken a class that is the most dull and boring and mindless thing. We don’t get it, we aren’t going to get it, but if we want to get out of here with a degree, we can’t not take it. So, we do. You’re blessed if it’s relatively simple, but if it’s not and/or you just don’t vibe with it, you’re screwed. See the above anxiety and depression, with the added Rage to End All Rages, wherein you cry angrily into your notes. When you go to bed that night, you can’t sleep, burning with indignant rage. You then dream about accidentally sleepwalking to an airport and flying to another country.

9 – Exam Eve: The Depression

You don’t study. You’re too tired. Instead, you binge-watch all of the new She-Ra season. You have the theme song memorized, but that’s the only thing you can remember about anything in the history of the universe. Oh, and you’ve forgotten what room your exam is in, too.

10 – Exam Eve: The Panic Attack

I sincerely wish I was making this up. Sophomore year, December. Thursday night, and I’m in the middle of the second-worst panic attack night of my whole life. I am so convinced I’m on the verge of death that sleep is impossible and my heart races too fast. None of my friends are on campus. I get maybe two hours of sleep before going to both my finals and bombing them. The only lucid moment I have of those finals is when I’m standing in the middle of one of Jewell Hall’s staircases, half-dazed, half-delirious. I’m alive, I thought, waiting for my turn at the oral examination guillotine. I’m alive.

Hopefully no one has suffered all ten of these for an exam – I’d be delighted if no one could relate to any of these at all. However, I know most people I come into contact with are mutual balls of anxiety and stress, so I hope knowing that exams have been hellish for me helps you get through them this semester!


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