The 7 People You Become During An Exam

After getting through the last few weeks, which are now a blur of highlighters, coffee, Wikipedia tabs, and motivational Ted Talks, D-day has finally come… the exam. On entering the hall you hold in your hands every piece of stationary you own (there’s always that fecker of a pen that decides not to work...), and a bottle of water (although you know no one has ever died of dehydration in 3 hours, you take it anyway). It doesn’t matter who you are, who you were, who you want to be, or even how many pens you hold, you will more than likely become at least one of these people throughout the exam…

  1. The Confident Planner

Before even opening the paper and attempting to read any of the questions, you write down the exact time you’re allowing yourself for each section. Is this totally necessary? No, but it calms you and makes you feel organised so you do it anyway. At this stage you are still oblivious to what horror may lie before you, who said denial wasn’t a good thing?

  1. The Brave Level-Headed Soldier.

If the soundtrack to your life was available, you would hear the pounding force of ‘Eye of the Tiger’ or the soaring string melody that plays as William Wallace fights for Scotland and FREEDOM. Armed and ready with your brand new pen in hand, and channelling every motivational speaker you watched in the last few weeks, you underline everything you think is important , making you feel in control; while the exam may take your life (social that is...let’s not be extreme) IT WILL NEVER TAKE YOUR FREEDOM: Enter William Wallace...

  1. Winner/Extreme Worrier.


After carefully re-reading everything the brave level-headed soldier inside you underlined, you realise one of two things. One: The ‘BOOM’ moment, the universe has put everything in your favour and the topics you actually looked at have come up #lovinloife2k14 #letthegamesbegin. Two: The ‘Oh holy mother of god’ moment, you feel you may as well have been taking classes in advanced Ogham all year for all the use your knowledge is to you now #depthsofdespair #whatislife.

  1. Self-loather.

On experiencing the second realisation above, you will most likely spend the next few minutes in a self-loathing daydream. While you savoured those 20 minute (where in reality 120 minute...) ‘study breaks’ where the exams seemed in the land of far far away, all cozied up in bed with a fresh cuppa and a few chocolate fingers watching episodes of Suits/New Girl/House of cards/every new TV series you convince yourself you must be in the loop on, those times are of no use to you now so you curse yourself as well as the makers of those shows. Watching the Sex and the City where Carrie is in Paris will not make you more French and will never be relevant in your French translation exam, so stop.

  1. Lurker/Ponderer.

Whether you are #winning in the exam or are just coming to terms with the fact that repeats are inevitable, there will be a time throughout the exam where the inner lurker/ponderer in you will briefly surface. You have a sudden interest in all around you. You’re not a cheat, and genuinely have no interest in what the person next to you is writing, however you admire their handwriting. You have no interest in fashion, yet find yourself questioning why the vast majority are in tracksuits and society hoodies. And the most common, you suddenly notice how good looking a certain someone in your class is and vow to yourself you will shift that person next year. On the topic of next year, you start to mentally make lists of things you will do next year (begin studying earlier, give up coffee, exercise more) and the idea of this new better version of you puts you in a better mood and instills the second bout of confidence needed to return to the present and approach the paper again.

  1. The Creative improvisation master

After briefly turning to God for help, and resurrecting your knowledge of fractions to work out how much you need to pass, the final half hour of the exam has come. The opportunity to leave before this time was very tempting because after all, what even are exams? Why do we need them? It would be much easier to quit college and ‘find yourself’ on an island and try to re-create ‘Eat Pray Love’, but no, you chose to stay just in case divine inspiration shows up and the universe answers your call. This is when the true creative genius inside you has time to shine. You write down everything you learned in the last few weeks on the paper, because after all what use is it just in your head? Topics that were never previously related in any way are suddenly connected thanks to your creative genius, your inner philosopher puts in streams of rhetorical questions, and when it comes to referencing…there’s bound to be a Mary Murphy somewhere that wrote an article on the growth of the Irish language...isn’t there?



  1. The Optimist.

Ah yes, there is a bit of this person in all of us. ‘PUT DOWN YOUR PENS’, you can put the previous 3 hours behind you, the exam is over, and ‘sure-look-and-sure-listen, haters go’n hate potaters go’n potate, YOLO sure wasn’t it grand!’.

Whether it’s a year’s worth of sleep you want, to run to the closest bar, or if you’re unfortunate enough to have to return to the depths of the valley of highlighters and coffee, whatever the case have comfort in knowing you are a step closer to summer and FREEEEDOMMM!!!


Clare McGonigle
Article written by
Final year Music and French student, baker extraordinaire and future CEO of Pixar...suggestions on how to become both are welcome... have unhealthy relationship with peanut butter and tea

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