A pink taxi

A pink taxi

April 9, 2011


At each of their respective levels,  whether Phd comprehensive exams, GREs, college finals, SATs, baccalaureate exams, highschool weekly exams, elementary school trimester exams, each of these examinations presented hurdles for me. I still remember the wise words of a college friend, who advised me as I prepared frantically for a mid term: "In the grand scheme of things, this will only be an exam, whether you pass it or fail it!"

Ever since that wise piece of advice, which I received midway through my academic life, I began to take every exam with a grain of salt and accepted the results with a firmer head on my shoulders. In the end, I have accepted that exams are a good thing! They encourage revisions and practice. They evaluate your progress midway so you can tweak your study method, or "get your act together". I profess to adhering to a school system that examines and tests: the French system.

Now that I have children, I openly embrace examinations. If there is a test/exam in a sport or an activity then all the better. For ballet and violin, I feel that examinations  are good indicators of one's ability to move on to the next level, thus formalising the progress, the same way a belt examination would in a martial art.

The most essential aspect of an exam is the preparation that it entails. I certainly bonded with my siblings while tutoring them for the SATs. Today we still identify complicated English vocabulary as SAT words. I even quote the "SAT analogy exercises" to make my own analogies. Coming from the French system, SATs were challenging exams, but I think they were fair and good ways of assessing proficiency in mathematics and English.

I also bonded with my boarding school mates while preparing and eventually cramming for the baccalaureate exam. It is bewildering how high school kids can actually improvise collaboration: sharing notes, quizzing one another, tutoring peers. Till this day, the first days of Spring bring me back to the momentous Spring of my  baccalaureat exam preparation, when the warming season beckoned us to go out, but isntead we chose to remain at our desks.

Passing the baccalaureate exam is an unequaled academic experience and an unforgetable milestone. I distinctly remember the morning the exams began, waking up to a June day that was ordinary for the rest of the Geneva population, but that seemed like a question of life or death for us. It was only an exam. But when we received the good news that we'd passed,  the feeling of accomplishment was transformative. We ran to the famous Geneva fountain and got soaked in celebration!

1 comment:

  1. Only those who have taken the dreaded French Baccalaureat can relate to it in the haunting way you described prepping, cramming, the morning of, and finally the achievement of having passed!