The student population studying for finals are fascinating creatures.
Though exams are among their biggest predators, they pose no direct physical threat to the student organisms. Yet, in the most peculiar manner, the students act in the level of distress that would suffice for flesh-eating carnivores.
Students know that exams are constantly looming, right from their first step into the hallowed school halls after their summer migration. Despite this, said students always seem shocked at the prospect when, two weeks before the attack, they are reminded of “the finals’” existence.
The reminder serves as a catalyst to ignite the stress cycle that all students go through, to various extents. The first changes in a student’s behavior are small, paying attention one more iota in class and making a bit more effort to complete the homework.
This will generally waterfall into a great crescendo of a studying marathon. Followed by a full eight hours of sleep and nutritious breakfast. Then they’ll stride to the gymnasium like an academic ninja, equipped with sharpened HB No. 2 pencils in one hand and a calculator in the other.
Who am I kidding?
The real stress cycle actually begins with denial, until they see the examination date, time and place printed, posted and starting down at them. This bring students to the stage of reluctant acceptance.
Studying endeavours bravely commence, but the 2.5 solid hours of reviewing may have included a 30-minute search for your notes from the second unit; 15 minutes calculating the lowest score one could get on the final and still pass with their current mark; 25 minutes of attempting to looking up something one didn’t understand and being led on a good jaunt around the internet; 7 minutes of envisioning arguing with the teacher about something that definitely wasn’t covered, but somehow on the review sheet. And finally another healthy 10 minutes is spent wrestling the urge to end the suffering and drop out of the class.
Next, there is a dietary shift in students, where once semi-nutritious meals are replaced by caffeine and variants of sugar. The date of the finals attack can be characterized by the temporary nocturnal ability students will gain 1-2 days before the exam. These extra hours are spent sleepily gazing over notes.
Finals day arrives. It begins with a stumble out of bed for panicked students. A frantic last look at notes, caffeine, calculator and a blunt pencil from the lost and found box. Eventually, scurrying into the gym, the student has finally reached the end of their Finals Stress Cycle, and mostly survived.
Why would any student embark on such a tumultuous experience? Well, we don’t really have a choice. In modern day society, there exists an insatiable need for humans to determine who is better.
This feeds into the competitive nature in the human species.
Sports compete through tournaments, ranking, divisions; musicians receive scores for their performance; and thespians compete for the best roles.
Nothing – especially learning – seems to be able to be done without a grade, percentage, or score.
This constant environment of competitions motivates the students as much as it depresses them. It mentally builds up society, while simultaneously tearing it down. Now this begs the question, can humans do anything just for fun?