Exam Week(s): The Best Way Out is Through

Just as we were beginning to get used to walking around with plastic baggies and just as we were beginning to consider them as a socially acceptable fashion accessory, they are over. What? Exams? Over? ….Dobby is a free elf! Let’s take a moment and reflect on the process.

What are exams for?

“If the purpose for learning is to score well on a test, we’ve lost sight of the real reason for learning.” ~Jeannie Fulbright

We didn’t come all this way just so we could end up with a decent score for the International Baccalaureate, AP, A-levels, or whatever you might be taking. Sure, it might be nice if we got all 7s (or 5s), but at the cost of what? If that has been your sole drive and purpose for the past two years, you might leave your final exam with a profound sense of disillusionment. If I had chosen my six IB and one AP courses for the sake of appearing to be an impressive applicant to my colleges, I would have been miserable. That is, you learn because you want to learn, because of a genuine interest. Not as a symbolic act of self-aggrandizement.


Exams serve as both a benchmark and a propeller for you in your learning goals. They should not serve as the sole enforcer of these goals: at the end of the day, you want to achieve them too. Be educated, that is the biggest reward – a nice score proving that you’ve done your work is nice too, but is only the icing on the cake.

“The best way out is always through.” ~Robert Frost

Even if you recognize that learning comes first, exams do not magically become easier. Time moves only forward and stops for none. The best way to get through this time, to put it quite bluntly, is to plunge right in and try the best you can until it’s in the past.

Attitude certainly changes things too. If you shift your state of mind from, “Ughh, I have to do this thing…” to “Oh, I get to do this thing!”, it makes a world of difference. There are millions of people in the world right now who will never have the opportunities you do. Being thankful allows you to make the most out of even the most difficult circumstances.

For those of you who are done – congratulations! But there will be more to come, year after year, so I will offer the same reminder as I am giving to those who aren’t: “This too, shall pass.”


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