On the eve of the September holidays, as Deputy Principal Mr Ng reminded the students of Year 1 to 3 to commence preparations for the End-of-Year examinations, I could not help but recall and relive the memories of the Year 4’s Final Exams. For me, the Final Exam journey has been an eventful one to say the least. With the preparation stretching as far back as the June holidays, this period has been a test of sheer endurance for the Year 4s. Worksheet after worksheet, topic after topic, the revision period has been marked by countless revision practice questions, relentless cramming and endless revision notes. Capping off the revision period were 7 consecutive days of gruelling papers (save for a life saving weekend in between) designed to stretch one’s mental focus and hand muscles to the limit.
During the exam preparation period, I have integrated, differentiated and solved functions, worked on multiple PEEL paragraphs, committed to memory how genetic engineering works in Biology, and tackled some Physics Electromagnetic Induction Questions in between, all while simultaneously internalising the reactivity series of metals for Chemistry. Confounded with the delicate balancing act of 9 subjects, I did some quick math early on to conclude that the last-minute burning of midnight oil was not going to be able to save me this time. Henceforth, I resolved to follow my teachers’ almost constant reminders to start revision during the June “study break”. Alas, overcoming the initial revision inertia with the constant allure of the Internet and YouTube was not exactly the most ideal. Many times, I found myself forcing a begrudging self to hit the books, only for me to slip right back into the Internet moments later.
Within the first few days of revision, I had determined that my current trajectory would have set me up on a path for disaster. Deciding that tough times call for tough measures, I upped the ante of my game, resorting to using the carrot and stick method. Firstly, I decided to set an initial study goal of approximately 4 to 5 hours of revision per day before gradually ramping up the number of hours once I had overcome the initial inertia. After that, I would time the number of hours I study each day, giving myself a small reward if I had successfully reached mystudy goal while taking away some of my privileges when I failed. Finally, I was back on track, albeit with minor deviations here and there.
As the months whittled down to weeks and then days, the good old fear factor finally kicked in. Faced with a ticking countdown, the mere thought of running out of time for revision was enough to power me through the day. Though tiring, I found my study hours increasing like an exponential graph, with the kiasu part in me constantly propelling me forward.
In the blink of an eye, the preparation period was over but the real deal had only just begun. Having been notified of the exam schedule early on, I mentally —- and physically — braced myself for the onslaught. This was also the first time I was going to sit for a paper in the hall. To be frank, it was rather disconcerting to see rows upon rows and columns upon columns of desks stretching the entire length of the hall. As far as the eye could see, the hall—- usually associated with assemblies and Physical Education lessons—- had been transformed into a maze. Even though I had pored over the seating plans the previous day, exam anxiety, coupled with my poor sense of direction, left me hopelessly lost as I meandered through the haze of people finding their seats. Fortunately, I eventually located my seat with the help of my friends and classmates.
Soon, the gruelling papers began in full force. Question after question, our pens collectively “flew” across the page, scribbling words, numbers and symbols, anything to clinch those marks. Other than draining my pen ink and correction tape (I cycled through 3 pen refills and 4 correction tapes in just one week), the examination also started depleting the gas in my tank to dangerously low levels. Yes, the unwanted fatigue was setting in so it was time to change my approach yet again. However, after the utilisation of “the fear factor” and the “carrot-and-stick approach”, my arsenal of motivational tools had seemingly run out. Desperate, I had to resort to sheer determination and willpower to shove myself forward in the final lap.
Every beginning has an end. All journeys that have a beginning will have an end and the Final Exam Journey was no exception. On August 4, 10.45 a.m., the last paper finally concluded, capping off a 2-months long roller coaster ride. One could almost feel a palpable sense of jubilation and relief sweep across the cohort after the invigilators had dismissed us from the hall. Amid the excited chatter about our post-examination plans, I could not help but enjoy this moment of respite. Yes, I am aware that my German O Level Exams are about to make their entrance. Yes, I also know that the date for my Higher Chinese O Levels is also nearing. Yet, at least for a few days, I can finally binge watch YouTube without feeling guilty, scroll through memes on Instagram without worrying, and hang out with my friends without fretting.
As the Year 4s collectively catch up on our well-deserved break, let us all relish in the novel experiences the GAP Semester will bring while keeping in mind the hurdles that we still have to clear in order to reach the end point. There will be so much to be explored, so much to be experienced, so much to be excited about. Until then, I shall return to my room and continue my binge watching.