Like it or not, exams end up being the most important and stressful things that you do at Oxford. As they get closer and closer, they bump everything else of your list of priorities – but which limbs go first in the dismemberment of your dignity?
Calm is the first thing to go. You realise – however soon before the exams, a month for some, a week for others – that the dreaded exams are on their way. Lose your head, and put on the head of an exam robot. It’s time to go into exam mode.
2. Tidy bedroom
Even if it was a tip before, your room’s really going to go to tits as you rummage through three terms of notes and well-hidden socks. There’s no time to file, only to revise!
3. Restraint in your vices
Whatever your vice: alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, junk food, TV, or doing your hair, the pressure of exams is an excuse to let go of all the restraint you’ve somehow kept over those things. It’s important to build breaks into the day, and they’re being filled with whatever is nicest and easiest. I’m bloody finishing that can of Pringles, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
4. Your sense of what day it is
Every glance at a clock or a calendar leads you to questioning everything you thought you knew about the passage of time. When lectures end, all sense of what day it is crumbles. Days, not hours, become your main units of time, and they slip away at the pace that the hours used to.
Even if you’re just going to spend the time
wanking pissing about on the internet sleeping chilling in your room, that still seems more conducive to revision than doing something that definitely isn’t revision. You can either make excuses or slip into the exam abyss.
Slightly erroneous, this one – sleep does come, but only when you can’t keep it away anymore, like in the library, JCR, Bridge smoking area, or while doing some ‘relaxed reading’ on your bed. “Get a good night’s sleep before exams!” they say. At this point it’s all about getting some good exams so you can sleep.
7. Laundry and basic hygiene
Hahahahahaa, this is where the list definitely becomes only semi-autobiographical, I swear. If you haven’t done laundry in the last three weeks, now’s not the time to start. The ol’ flip-and-air will have to do now. Does the same apply to showering and brushing teeth? Depends how much revision you’ve got left…
Despite all your bold pronouncements (“I’ll stop going out in
2nd 4th 6th 7th week!”), it becomes clear that there’s really no reason to stop going to the one place where you stop thinking about the ever-increasing pile of books on your desk. But, as words like ‘tomorrow’ and ‘later today’ start to be applied to exams, you have to stop. Lola’s will go on without you, and you’ll have to go on without it.
9. The strength in your hands
Three hours a day. Six hours a day. The human hand wasn’t built for this kind of finger-mangling endurance, at least not after a term of tapping on keyboards. Every pen position starts to seem wrong. Do you take a break from writing and lose time, or keep going and lose sensation in your carpals? You lose either way.
It’s exam time. Why do you still give a shit? They’re going to happen whether you like them or not. Just sit back in Exam Schools and let the tide of paper and ink wash over you – it’s not even as messy as silly string and shaving cream anyway.