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6 relatable things about taking an exam at home 

Date:26 June 2020
How I feel about having to take an exam in 30 degree heat
How I feel about having to take an exam in 30 degree heat

While we’ve been working and studying at home for the past three months, there are still some things that are hard to get used to, like having to take an exam at home. Whereas before corona I probably would’ve loved the idea of being able to take an exam from the comfort of my couch, I actually miss the Aletta Jacobs building. I’m certain I’m not the only one who feels like this, so here are 5 relatable things about having to take exams at home.

  1. There is less pressure

The imminent pressure from the orange walls of Aletta Jacobs and having all of your peers around you definitely has  a different effect when you’re sat at home. It’s so much easier to feel relaxed, which isn’t exactly what you want during an exam. 

Tip: set up a ‘exam spot’ in your house. As allocating a specific spot as the location for examination makes it feel more real. I set up my desk as my spot, clearing my desk of any clutter that wasn’t related to the exam and trying to reenact an exam situation.

2. “Open book exam” isn’t as easy as you thought 

The words “Oh, I don’t need to study, it’s an open book exam” have most likely been uttered far too often when preparing for an open book exam. You feel like you’ll be fine without studying because you have all of your books and notes available but due to the time pressure, you spent more time flipping through your notebook than actually thinking about the exam. 

Tip: always know where to find all the relevant information as that way you don’t have to know all of the material by heart, but you know it well enough to know where to find it.

3. You feel watched

For some courses, you have to have your camera on so that a moderator can ensure that you aren’t cheating. Seems fair, since there are also people present in exam halls to make sure everyone is following the rules. Yet, sitting at your desk in your student room with your webcam on feels like a whole different level of moderation. Do you clean up the mess that is your room behind you? Do you have to make sure you don’t yawn in a very unflattering way? If you stare at the wall, does the moderator think you are cheating? All valid questions and which all distract you from your exam.

Tip: try not to think about whether or not someone is ‘watching you’, as essentially it is the same procedure as a normal exam. Just remember that in a normal exam hall you probably aren’t worrying about the moderator either.  

4. It’s hard to focus 

Construction workers in the streets, your housemates talking, or your parents mowing the lawn - there is a lot of distraction in your daily life compared to a normal exam setting, and unfortunately, it's hard to control everything happening outside so that you can take an exam. That can be pretty tough, because you need space  to think about tough exam questions.

 Tip: Invest in some good noise-cancelling headphones as that will help block out at least some of the distractions.

5. It’s less relieving once you’re done

Ah, remember the days of waiting outside of the exam doors for your friends to come out and frantically ask “what did you think?” and discuss the exam. Being able to physically leave the Aletta Jacobs exam building feels more euphoric than moving from your desk to the couch. But luckily, the terraces are open again, so once you finish an exam, you can still go and have a celebratory drink with your fellow students.

Tip: plan a celebratory 1.5m picnic in the park or social distance drinks with your peers, so that you can still have that ‘post-exam’ mini celebration and get out of the house.

6. There are (for the most part) less exams

Okay, I’ll end on a positive note! In my experience, I have had a lot less exams than normal as instead, I’ve had to write a lot of papers, and I think a lot of people have experienced the same. So, even though the conditions aren’t 100% ideal for exams, there probably could’ve been a lot more.

Tip: stay positive! 

At the end of the day - this will definitely be a story to tell when looking back at your student life. 

How have you experienced taking exams at home? Let us know in the comments!

About the author

Hey! I’m Danique, a Dutch/American studying International Relations and International Organizations with a mild obsession with coffee, cats, and rowing. If you can’t find me, look for the girl (almost always) wearing pink and writing blogs.