Having an Exam Before Reading Week

A finger tracing words in a book

PHOTO BY SARA SHEIKH / SPUTNIK PHOTOGRAPHY

The first weeks of university can be very hectic for students, especially first years. On top of having to be thrown right into the frontlines of university tier education, students have a lot more battles to fight – not counting the biggest one set in the classroom.

The start of school is a very busy time for students. Buying and securing textbooks, trying to establish friendships and connections, having to get used to new surroundings from the campus to the dorms, having to decide whether to stick to a class or drop it for another one – all these battles distract students from class and in tandem, a number of students end up falling behind. 

Some may miss crucial classes simply because they didn’t know where the classroom was, while others could fall behind due to the mounting horde of battles that needed fighting. The pressure builds up and this greatly affects the mental health and motivation of a student. 

Alas, hope comes in the form of reading week. 

This is the referee’s whistle as the boxer can finally catch his breath after having been pummeled by his challenger. For some students, this is their bell moment as they can finally regroup and prepare to launch a counteroffensive. 

Reading week helps the students eventually catch up on the classes they’ll be behind on. For many, they can sharpen their swords as they prepare to go to war with their midterms by studying and ensuring that they quell the fears of failure with the evidence of having qualified for the paper.  

In some cases, this single week is a make-or-break moment as the emperor’s thumb is outstretched before the gladiator, his fate on the line as glory or death hangs above his neck. 

On top of the educational benefits, there are also the mental health benefits as students can finally de-stress and organize their thoughts, planning and preparing effectively without any pressure of having to worry about early classes or more lessons. 

Reading week is a breather; this is the cut man patching up the boxer’s bloodied face. At the same time, his mind races through strategies and techniques, his eye on his midterm, staring right back at him with merciless eyes, but once that bell rings again, the boxer will be, will be and his fists will be unhinged. 

Hence, the student is let loose. His mind is at peace; his fears are overcome by the confidence of days upon days of merciless preparation. He is ready; he is ready to not only fight but prosper and grab glory by the neck igniting the Colosseum as the emperor gives him the thumbs up. 

But imagine, his dreaded opponent – that revered midterm – imagine if it bypassed his defenses. Imagine if it launched a surprise assault and bombarded him long before he could be saved by the reinforcements of that precious reading week. 

He’d be thrown into the furnace and while others catch their breadth in the future, he’d be tested in the fiery crucible of the exam, no backup, no chance to re-organize or destress, just pressure upon pressure. 

Some might succeed having prepared earlier, but there are some who will fold under this pressure, and they will be haunted by the dream of having been given more time, having been given a chance to pull themselves together, having been given a reading week before the wrath of the exam.

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