The first exam. And the second.
My exams have finally started. And I think my forearm’s been sorer than this before. This is, after all, the third year running I’ve had two exams in one day. For some reason, those days always seem to involve English. Like, always. In 2005 it was calculus, last year it was French, today it was physics and tomorrow it’ll be chemistry. English, the subject that involves three essays and some really hard questions. On the bright side, I can still feel my fingers and I’m not totally knackered like I thought I’d be. In fact, I’m feeling alright.
The texts in the close reading paper were great fun, but the questions, oh, the questions! The poem had me laughing my head off, until I looked at the questions that followed it. It was about consumerism and advertising. (But wait, there’s more!) The questions asked about the first paragraph and first stanza, respectively, which as far as I could tell, had little substance for themselves; they only had meaning when combined with the rest of it. Oh, it was so obscure, why couldn’t they ask the obvious stuff, damnit! I still haven’t figured out what “encourages the reader into the first stanza” means. I’ve never before found the comparison questions easier than the single-text questions.
As for the essays, well, they were probably compromised by the length of time I spent on the close reading paper, but I finished them all, which is always a good sign. I was disappointed to find the lack of a point-of-view question in the Shakespeare paper; for the first time ever, I was forced to choose option (a) (which I really don’t like) because the (b) question was one of them the-extent-of-which-some-random-word was part of it ones. So, Claudius’ morality. I sort of turned it into an I-hate-Claudius rant, but I couldn’t figure out anything to balance the argument apart from, he had a shred of conscience, once upon a time…
The novel essay question was so good, it was almost bad: human weakness and its consequences, what could serve The Handmaid’s Tale better? The flipside of such a fitting question is that it’s hard to make it look insightful, because everything’s so obvious. As for the film essay, well, by that time I was tired so I just scrawled out whatever I could. I think it was something on the lines of, Jackson’s so brilliant, he doesn’t need to do that to get his point across! Far, he has better ways! I wonder if the examiner’ll buy it.
I predicted a question on standing waves, and I was right. The first question. Radial pulsation of stars, or something like that, modelled as a standing wave. Whaaat? It totally threw me off, I almost skipped the question! I eventually managed to scrawl something out. I figure the centre of the star’s a node. (I’m not entirely sure why.) And then the second question! By this time, I was thinking, man, this is not a good sign…
It took me ages to figure out the depth of that well, and I was concerned about my answer implying that 1.75 wavelengths gives a resonance in a well, but hey, maybe it does. And it took me a while to get my head around that h = D/4 I got. Why did it look so unrealistic? This is where flexi-rulers come in handy (twist it into a loop and play with it). I got there in the end, I think.
Physics papers are normally fun for the simple reason that the applications are more interesting, and this one was no exception. I mean, explaining the likelihood of an astronaut completing her mission. And environmental physics—I’ve never seen that in a physics paper before, and well, that was a clever link to current global issues.
I finished with twenty minutes to spare and I figure I got everything mostly right, but you know, last year I finished with twenty minutes to spare and I figured I got everything mostly right, and I ended up getting zero from eight for question two. So, honestly, who knows what could happen? Maybe even my h = 5D/4 was wrong, without me even realising it.
My one concern from this exam, apart from the possibility of getting zero for a question without realising it like last year, is my four-and-a-half pages of extra writing at the end of the paper. Well, about half of it was starting an answer over once I realised I had written total rubbish. But the other half was continuation of answers, which isn’t a good sign, if conciseness is a criterion.
I figure the pass mark’ll be about 24, and the outstanding mark 36, from a maximum possible 48. I think that’s generous, but I thought last year was generous and I overestimated by like seven. My figures are based on this year’s being about as hard as last year’s, or marginally easier. But that’s assuming there wasn’t a question to throw everyone off, like last year.