I felt today’s exam went well; I certainly left feeling good about my chances. I did three questions on the beginnings of contract and then afterwards took advantage of the bright sun to explore the West End – all in all a good way to end the university year. It’s been a very good year and I’m looking forward to the next.
I’d forgotten what I love about exams, the thrill when you go in and try to show what you can do. I had a bit of trouble getting up in the morning which surprised me as I’d taken the standard precautions in the run up to the exam – no late nights, going to bed in a regular schedule and using an alarm clock to wake me at the same time every morning – but once I was up I started to feel the butterflies in my stomach going as my adrenaline levels started to rise. It’s horribly geeky of me but I genuinely get physically excited at the prospect of exams, I truly love them. I don’t enjoy waiting for results as much but there’s something primal about a well done exam – it gets the heart rate up, maybe even causes a flush in some people and you simply show single minded focus on a set of intellectual challenges for hours of your life. It’s pretty unsurprising that I happen to enjoy quizzes for roughly the same reason.
I’ve never been able to understand why people wouldn’t like to do exams, I came close in maths, a field that both fascinates and escapes me at the same time, and I recognise the frustrated feelings that arise from the answer seemingly never coming. To my shame, when my friend in front asked “3 times 40 is 120, right?” I couldn’t place it, but she was timing essay change-overs like a true student, using maths in an English based subject, no less.
One new concept I had in my exam today was being able to bring a text to help. I brought Avizandum Legislation on The Scots Law of Obligations (3rd ed.) compiled by Laura J MacGregor, a really useful book to have. It seems insane to purchase this book when law schools provide students with easy access to online references via Westlaw and LexisNexis, and simply HMSO provides people with free access to statutes themselves but it proved its worth by simply being the book I was allowed to bring in (and, with that stamp of approval promptly went out of stock at the library for the rest of the year) and including a collection of books which my introductory course would not seem to attribute to the area of contract law, so I hope I can use the book again in future, I think it may be handy to have it on hand at Honours. I had expected the book to make the question asking about the effect of statute pretty much a case of reading the book and stitching the relevant provisions into a story. Not so, I actually found myself confused to the point of forgetting my original introduction to the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977, in my 5th year at secondary, and somehow forgetting that the question was asking me a question on the effect of limitation clauses regarding personal injury. I talked a great game about the negligence of the company not being mentioned in the terms of the limitation and therefore the court would never support a hypothetical defence of a case of negligence but somehow skated past the answer I was expected (and, in truth, expecting myself) to give. I nevertheless quoted at length to prove my skeleton argument was supported by the facts and by provisions of the act, but somehow never going as far as to say “clauses which limit liability in the event of personal injury or death are void” and the reason for that slip evades me. I don’t think I will ever make that mistake again. I’m surprised that my practices with older papers never showed this problem but I think I wasn’t able to copy the adrenaline rush that I love so much in the exam experience and I couldn’t predict that I would react that way. That’s one risk of the exam day.
If you talk to students, not just this one, who have really prepared and enjoy the challenge and tried after an exam, they will either be emotionally and physically drained or euphoric. Today, since it was a shorter paper than we’ve become used to the mood was euphoric. There’s not much more satisfying to a serious student than a test which they have studied their hearts out for that comes off well for them. It’s a wonderful feeling to have and you leave the hall feeling psyched for anything, you feel “ready to run a marathon”. Obviously, this same adrenaline rush will mean that a few hours later you will be yawning into your tea and snoozing on the bus but that initial buzz is well worth taking the exam.