Thursday, 27 January 2011

Exam Ennui

Hell is here on Earth...

Here’s a list of things that I would guess would be pretty boring:
  •      Watching grass grow in ultra slow motion
  •      Watching a silent movie if you were blind
  •       Being a plant.       
  •    Training a Pokémon to Level 100 against Level 5 enemies

Despite these mind-numbingly tedious activities, I can think of something even more humdrum than that. Being an exam invigilator.

All they do is stand around, and walk from the front of the room to the back of the room, and stand around, and walk from the back of the room to the front of the room and stand around. Repeat ad infinitum. Until the end of the exam.

This pointless yet somehow structure walking pattern reminds me of people in supermarkets, shuffling aimlessly up and down the aisles. And as I sit more and more exams, I notice the similarity more and more often. The invigilators amble backwards and forward like shoppers, occasionally looking to either side and glancing at whatever’s in front of them. I expect them soon to be pushing trolleys back and forth through the exam hall and picking up various items out of people’s pencil cases and placing it into their trolley. I hope this doesn’t happen; I can’t afford to lose any more pens.

The tedium continues almost indefinitely for these people, until a moment of joy comes. From the crowd, a lonely hand rises above the rest, signalling a desire for attention. Or extra paper. When a hand is raised, you can see the joy spread across their faces like butter onto warm bread. They quickly assess the situation, and with darting eyes, clock the other invigilators to see who is the closest. This is when all the invigilators become incredibly vulture like. They all rush towards the needy person until it becomes obvious who has won this battle of ownership. I say rush, when I mean slowly walk. They can’t run in exams as it would spoil the ambient silence, but I think it would be much funnier if they did. They gradually give up until the victor succeeds and asks the student what they need. Surprisingly, it’s extra paper, so they go off and get it.

The vulture metaphor ends here; they don’t actually eat the student. Or flap their wings as the approach them. Or have bald heads. Actually, scrap that last one, which does happen quite a lot.

The most exciting part of the whole invigilation process, apart from this vulture impersonation malarkey, is when they let the students leave after all of the papers have been collected. They let them out column by column, starting nearest the door. Each row sits and waits, waiting for the moment the invigilator makes the signal to the let them go. It’s probably the tensest part of the whole examination process. The invigilators have exploited this fact and seem intent on making students wait as long as possible, before giving in and making the signal. They then repeat until everyone has left.

This, amongst others, is the reason why I spend literally minutes revising for an exam, so that I can get good grades, a good job and not be bored senseless for hours at a time. Until I retire and I need some extra cash. It’s a vicious circle.

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