Lessons from Final Exams

This blog post depicts the events from May 12th through May 22nd.

Final exams started on Saturday, May 12th and run through Thursday, May 24th. This gives two weeks worth of finals and makes them pretty spread out. I had finals on Saturday, May 12th, Tuesday, May 15th, and Tuesday, May 22nd. I start on the very first day and finals and have a week gap between my second and last final. My finals are very spread out, but some of my friends have all of their finals in a row the first week, or in a row during the second week. Pacing myself in studying and trying to study as much as possible was hard, as there was a lot of information to memorize for each of my classes.

My first final was Scottish Music. Having never taken a final exam at St Andrews yet, going in was quite nerve-racking. I learned that final exams are treated like the SAT or a state test in the U.S. You have to have your ID with you at all times, are not allowed to wear smart-watches or Fitbits, are ID checked when you enter and during the test, can only have a clear water bottle, and tests are arranged in large rooms. The level of security for taking the finals was daunting, as this was not the same culture that I was used to when taking a final. You were only allowed exactly two hours for each final and could not go over at all, again something different than I was used to.

My Scottish Music module had the least number of people in the class, so we were in a smaller room. That final went relatively well and I felt good about it.

My next final was International Trade and we were in Younger Hall, where musical performances are located. There were three other classes in the hall taking finals as well, which was something I was not used to as well. My last final was Mathematical Modelling, a week later, which was located in the Sports Center, where I felt like I was taking the SAT all over again due to the size of the room. There were four other classes taking finals as well in the room and 4 of my friends were in the same room as me as well.

There is also a tradition at St Andrews that in your final year, after your last final, you get “soaked,” where buckets of water are dumped on you to celebrate your last final. Since it was technically my last year at St Andrews, my friends on the Korfball team included me in the soakings. Since my friends from my hall were also taking finals in the same room as me, they joined in as well. The only problem was that it was very cold and windy that day and getting buckets of cold water dumped on me did not feel good at all. Luckily, my dorm was near the Sports Center, so it was not too far of a soaking wet walk to change my clothes.

I started to run away to try and warm myself up after getting soaked

My Korfball friends after my soaking

I learned a very valuable lesson from taking finals at St Andrews: it is not expected that you get an “A” or a high mark on your finals. The final exams are not designed for you to do that and the way grades are marked are not designed for everyone to get high final marks. This was something that I learned after I did not finish all the way through my math exam. I am used to doing well on finals and finishing with enough time. Not finishing a question on a final exam was something unknown to me and made me start to worry and question my abilities. After speaking with some other students, I learned that I was definitely not the only one who did not finish and that the exam was harder than everyone had expected. From this experience, I learned that I have to be ok with failure and that not everything can go my way. I know that I am hard on myself and that failing after preparing for such a long time hurts, but it is something that I have to experience in order to learn and grow as a person.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *