Job interviews are one of those moments when many undergo so much anxiety and tension. One worries about so much that it becomes so easy to forget and mix up everything even after all the preparation.
Crazy things happen at interviews and one of the funniest I have ever heard was of a guy who borrowed a briefcase to impress those on the interview panel. When the time came for him to present his academic documents that were inside the briefcase, he could not remember the security codes and so it could not open. Amidst all the sweating and fidgeting he had to be asked to just leave.
Examinations also tend to create an almost similar scenario with students panicking all because the education system places so much weight on these often three hour sessions. The cost of failing has been placed so high that students strive to pass almost at all costs, something that has bred the culture of malpractices.
Over the years I can recall a number of awkward examination incidents I found myself in. I still remember sometime in Senior Two when I spent almost the whole night reading for the next day’s afternoon exam which was History. In the morning we had an English exam.
I slept close to day break only to wake up and find that my colleagues had already finished the English Paper 1 exam. I had to plead with my teacher to let me do both paper 1 and 2 at the same time. Lucky enough she agreed and I cannot remember ever doing an exam without looking away from the paper.
Another time at the university, I arrived almost 30 minutes after an exam had started. The good thing is that the rules allowed one to enter the examination room not later than those 30 minutes. I was allowed to sit the exam anyway.
I have had the chance to supervise some examinations here in Rwanda and the tension in the air is also detectable. Indeed I have been lucky to supervise both ordinary students’ as well private candidates that included people who were much older than me. Some of them were actually decorated serving soldiers who would show up with escorts!
The point I am trying to make here is that students doing examinations are already in a state of anxiety and teachers should be helpful and understanding. Because of the gravity of the exams some students will even choose to sit for the exams yet they are seriously ill. They simply cannot imagine having to miss out on such an important exercise.
In such cases, teachers should be willing to escort such students in case of impromptu bathroom needs or to find out whether they are able to actually sit the examination without being a problem to others. Others may need to take some medication during this time.
Apart from preventing examination malpractices, teachers should be there to make sure that students do their examinations in a comfortable environment so that they do not seek excuses for failing to perform well.
Talking of malpractices, teachers also need to be careful when dealing with students who appear sick or unstable. Some have been known to beg for permission to for bathroom breaks only to go there and open a book they had cleverly hidden in the room.
That is why when checking the examinations rooms before an exam, it may be wise to also check the toilets that students are expected to use during the examination period for any academic material that maybe hidden there.
Just like a person faced with an interview, students too need to do exams in an environment that is does not cause more discomfort than the exams themselves have already caused. A student who may have forgotten a scholastic material like a calculator should be helped to borrow one instead of just being treated like the fellow who borrowed a briefcase for an interview.