On exams

I’m in the middle of my exams and right now there’s a discussion going in my sweet little country on this very topic. There are people who want to get rid of exams in high school.They say it is better if there is a constant evaluation throughout the year.

It certainly makes for an interesting discussion. Currently I’m studying for my university exams, which are different from the high school ones, of course. We get a few days (or at least one…) to study for every final. In the first years of high school, we had three exam periods. You could have either one or two subjects each day. The last two years we only had two exam periods. You could still have one or two subjects on one day. Let me tell you though that two on one day is pretty hard.

Fast forward to university: the amounts are huge, the stakes are higher. Failing an exam means you have to retake during the summer. The pressure is on, while in high school, you were so very likely to succeed.

I do think that these kind of exams need practice. If you’ve never had exams in high school, it will be a big shock to suddenly have to get through such a giant amount of knowledge. Suddenly you have to sit in front of a professor and answer questions and it’s goddamn important. This needs some habituation, some practice in order to build up the stamina for it. Exams are tiring and demand a lot of you. But I’ve been working on this stamina since I was 12. If you take that away from people, they are probably more likely to fail in college. At least, that is what I think.

Now, speaking of exams, I’ve got almost only oral exams nowadays. That’s a challenge, because there is a big difference in failing on paper or failing in front of a professor. But on the other hand I like to dress up for it. Suddenly you see guys in suits walking on the streets. That is nice! I too dress differently, because I see it as an important thing to look better than usually. Somewhat more chique. I wear heels and necklaces and try to pick clothes that you don’t wear everyday just like that.

I would not take the risk!

I would not take the risk!

There is a girl in my class though who is a very good student, but she comes to oral exams in shorts. Of course, since we are with about 20 people in our class, the teachers know us quite well. Still I don’t quite understand how she could dress so… regular and summer-like. It was a very warm day, yes, but to come to an exam in shorts? Dressing up in a chique way is also a way to show respect I believe. And a way to show you know how to dress according to the situation. My dad once told me that on an important meeting at work, the men in suits would get a handshake, while they may have been less important than some others.

The way you dress can make people look differently at you. In some way we all respect men in suits just a little more than a guy in a regular sweater. This impression you make can be important. If you go to an interview, you want to make sure that you look like someone who is capable of doing the job. Well, I guess it’s quite the same when doing exams. I want to show that I am aware of the importance of the exam, as well as the fact that I’m very capable of doing it well.

This is sometimes a lie.

But you get the point. When I look decently, the professor might just have a subconscious respect for me and my knowledge and it might just show a little in my grades…

What do you think, should exams be banned in high school? And is picking the right clothes important for exams, interviews and so on?

Leave a comment


  1. Interviews, yes. You should definitely “dress to impress.” Exams, though? Meh, it’s not the same environment. I don’t think what you where is as important.
    I don’t remember what my exams were like in high school… so, can’t really comment on that.

    • Hmm, I don’t know… Of course I like to dress up, so that makes me feel like I have to ;). But honestly I do think that it’s always better to look a bit more professional when you are doing something this important.

      • Fair enough. If it is important to you, then you should definitely do it. I never cared that much about exams to warrant dressing up for them.

      • You do realize that girls like guys in suit, right? πŸ˜‰
        (Of course you don’t need that now anymore, but maybe your younger self would have liked that.)

      • My younger self wouldn’t have cared, or, more likely, wouldn’t have wanted the attention that wearing a suit would have brought from both the girls and the guys. I liked to hide in school, and excelled at it most of the time. The years of bullying taught me that.

      • Oooh, sorry to hear that 😦

      • No worries. That was a long time ago.

      • It’s still sad that you had to live through bullying. I mean, go that you survived, bad that it has happened.
        You seem to rock a suit now though, seeing your gravatar!

      • True. I clean up nice. πŸ˜‰
        And, thank you. Yeah, bullying is something the world can definitely do without.

  2. NotAPunkRocker

     /  June 20, 2014

    I think unless it is a mock trial or presentation, then oral exams are probably stressful enough for some that clothing type would the last thing to consider.

    I agree that the shock of exams if you haven’t taken them before could be a problem. Here (Virginia and probably many other states), we have “Standards of Learning” tests that everything hinges on, from 3rd grade up through senior year. You can be an honor roll student, but you have to take and pass the exam to graduate. It’s rote teaching, unfortunately, and memorizing instead of learning but that’s another topic πŸ™‚

    • Actually it calms me down to pick the right clothes. When I know that I look smart and good, I immediately feel better.
      But it all might be because of my love for dressing up after all πŸ˜‰

      I’m not sure if I get it right about the tests: do you get these from 3rd grade up to through senior year, or do they cover what you see during this time?

      I feel like I have memorized a lot and learned a little indeed. But the whole education system is quite much to discuss in comments perhaps πŸ˜‰

      • NotAPunkRocker

         /  June 20, 2014

        The series starts in third grade (mid elementary school) and are staggered up through high school. Like 5th grade might be Social Studies, 6th grade might be Science. Some years there are more than one, especially in Language Arts subjects. Senior year, he had to pass Geometry, Science, English and History, pretty much covering two years worth of classes. This is the state’s test; not counting actual class exams, quizzes and tests.

        I do well on tests because I can memorize things quickly, that’s always what has bailed me out grade-wise.

      • Oh, well, that sounds a bit circuitous (if that is the right translation….) to me. And difficult. We just had exams covering what we had seen the months before.

        I used to be like you, I used to have a great memory for such things. But I seemed to have lost it 😦

  3. Good Luck!!

  4. I don’t think exams should be banned as such but they’re definitely an archaic way of judging performance. People learn and display their intelligence in different ways; making two years of education hinge on a one-off exam is just plain daft.

    Dressing correctly for job interviews is important but dress codes in general are relaxing. I go to work in jeans and trainers every day.

    Dressing up for exams? I guess it depends on who is marking you and whether they’ll be influenced by your appearance…

    • It is as you say. But if they are banned on high schools, they should be banned in college as well. Otherwise it’s not fair.

      Of course, a dress code isn’t always strict. But to make a good impression I do think it’s important to pick the right clothes. And for exams, well, I try to look smart at least :). It helps me feel better already, so maybe it helps to calm me down.

  5. I never had oral exams in high school our college. But getting dressed professionally can definitely change your mindset and help you be more serious and focused.
    As far as interviews, definitely dress properly.
    That being said, I don’t think I still own a suit.

    Good luck and skill on the exams!

    • Never? Wow! Almost all of mine are oral now. But that’s okay since I never have to show up at 9 and I like that ;).

      It’s probably too expensive to buy if you don’t need it or generally don’t wear it… I was discussing it with a friend yesterday and he said that a good fitting suit is hard to find and costs a lot…

      Thank you!

  6. I’m not sure how I feel about the clothes thing. Something out of the norm would probably make me feel self concioius and uncomfortable, but then again so would wearing shorts. A happy medium perhaps comfortable chic lol

    • Hahaha yes! Maybe it sounded here like I’m really red carpet dressed up, but it’s more of comfortable chic with heels indeed.

  7. You have to show at least some sort of respect to an educational institution. Now imagine if teachers rolled up in miniskirt to take your oral exams? That’s just not right.
    I feel there should be a bit of a dress code. Not necessarily full on suits, but at least a blazer is not too much to ask…

    • Yes, a blazer can make a big difference on how you look. Though mostly a good shirt can already be good.
      We often say that you should dress like the professors dresses. If he’s in suit all the time, then you have to wear a suit. Now most of mine son’t wear that all the time, but still it feels better not to look like I’m ready for a beach or something…

  8. You’re right — we need high school exams to practice for the ones that really count. The stakes are way too high in university exams for them to be the first ones you’ve seen!
    Living in Spain for a couple months and blogging, I’m hearing a lot about this “retake in July” concept. We don’t have that in the USA! Not in any standardized way, at least. A professor might take pity and schedule a retake, but usually, if you fail the exam you fail the class and you have to retake the entire class.

    • Wow, that is heavy! Many people here have to retake some exams. It’s normal. Some even count it in, or skip one exam so they have more time to prepare it in the summer. Without that system, almost everyone would be doing classes in different years… Don’t you have that then? Or do most of you pass all the time?

      • It totally depends on the professor. We sometimes get to retake exams during the semester, but usually we only get one shot at final exams. I know people who failed and had to retake the class over the summer or the next semester. That happens more with science majors, though — as far as I know other majors usually pass.

      • Hmmm… That could either say a lot about us students or about the difference in difficulty!
        Though honestly I think tat our university eexpects a hell lot of us. Sometimes too much. I’m almost done with 8 exams in two weeks… And that’s a lot to go through!

      • I think our exams/exam schedules might be easier. Or at least different. At my next university I’ll have 6 classes (so six finals) and at my previous one I only had 4. Also, I don’t know how your exams are weighted — it depends on the class, but for me the final is usually 20-50% of my grade. So if I go into the final with a high overall grade, I could do poorly on it and still pass the class.

      • Oh! Well for us it’s mostly the entire grade, expect for maybe some little assingment during the semester. That could explain the difference a little πŸ˜€

  9. YES. Oh my gosh– slightly different situation, but I had a girl show up to work today wearing SHORTS AND A TANK TOP. Are you kidding me? I barely saw her out of the corner of my eye and I was already appalled. I immediately sent her home to change– she was wearing rubber flip flops! I work in a hospital, it’s a professional environment. She’s only a temp helping answer phones, but still! No bueno.

    • There are for sure classy outfits in case of hot weather… Like a fine dress and nice sandals or something. After all you are still in a place where you are not expected to buy ice cream and play beach volley…
      Glad though to see someone sharing my mind πŸ˜‰


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