No, I’m not talking about the classic starring Rodney Dangerfield. Although I did feel a little like his character as I walked into the examination hall for my Mangerial Economics final exam. It was the first time I had taken a test for school in eight years.
I had gone through pretty much all the stages of dealing with major change (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance) in the days leading up to this final. The problem is that there simply wasn’t enough time spent in class on the hugely complicated topic of economics for us to be in any position to do a final exam on the subject. That, and all the fucking MATH.
But there it was. On the desk in front of me. Along with the provided scratch paper, answer sheets, and the instructions and regulations. Now, in hindsight, what I am about to tell you isn’t so surprising, but when I read on the instructions that all cell phones had to be turned off… I had a small problem. I was planning on using the calculator function on my cell phone during the exam.
Okay, so that wasn’t the smartest thought I’ve ever had.
I timidly asked the proctor if it would be alright for me to use my cell phone since I didn’t have a calculator (it’s true, I even looked in the apartment before I left, but I didn’t own a single calculator). “No, oh no. I’m sorry but the instructions were provided in advance.” They were? Oh.
But then the proctor got proactive and announced loudly to the whole hall: “Does anyone have an extra calculator for this gentleman here?”
Turns out someone did. And that someone was Michel Arninkhof, who I now refer to as “the Saint”. Michel was actually in my six person group, which was fortunate, but what was more fortunate was that he was only three seats away and I was able to get the calculator and get back to my seat in three seconds and pretend like the whole thing didn’t happen. Nothing like starting out on the right foot…
So the test begins. I open the booklet, scan the first question, and my heart sinks. First, it’s all math. Second, I have no idea what the hell I am supposed to do. To stop the growing panic from spreading I pull out my Princeton Review learning and read all the rest of the questions first, just to get a feel for how I will have to apportion my time. There is one more math-oriented question and four essay-type questions. We have three hours.
I go back to the first question and think about it some more. It’s hard though, because I feel the hands of the clock moving, and I know that I really don’t know what the hell I’m doing and I’m just winging it and I should really do the other questions and come back to the first question later. I’m just so damned freaked out that I don’t even have a clue where to start. I mean, I *should* have at least a clue.
Fuck it. I skip the question after half an hour of fruitless scribbles on the scratch paper.
The rest of the test is no problem. Well, other than that there are two questions about concepts that I didn’t read about. So I have to pull out my textbook (it’s open-book) and read the relevant sections, and then lay down some premium level bullshit. The other math question is really an exact copy of a question that was in the review questions the instructor put online (and which I have a print out of with me).
I’m going over my six handwritten pages, looking for typos and places where I can make quick minor improvements, when the evil proctor announces fifteen minutes left.
I go back to evil question one and give it one more shot. Nope, still not happening.
I just go as far as I can and then write: “I’m sorry, but my math is just abominable.” I then go on to explain what I *would* have done if I had been able to figure out part A of the question (since parts B, C, and D all build on the answer from part A). I sign my name on the sheets, get up, and hand in what I think are five decent answers to six questions.
Five out of six. If I get full marks on all the other questions, that’s still like 80% right…?
I can’t believe I am actually paying THEM to put me through this.