By Keith Capstick
Outside every Ryerson University exam festers a cesspool of student terror, sweaty foreheads and vomit-inducing nervousness. Professors always seem to insist their students show up half an hour early, if only to join the communal freak-out and catch a glimpse of just how many people didn’t show up to lecture every week.
In many ways it’s like a high school dance, with all of the uncalled for shrieking and looks of constant apprehension. The room is divided into packs of relentless last-minute memorization, death wishes and the frequently over-used and always abused line, “Why did I take this class?”
As exam season continues to engulf Ryerson’s campus in shadows of scholastic anxiety, these rooms will be the bane of students’ existence for the next few days. Here are the types of people you can expect to see while patiently counting down the minutes until the fate of your GPA is determined:
The one who never came to class — Not necessarily nervous because, how could you be? This person is usually one of the only ones not standing in a group panicking because they didn’t come to class to make any friends to talk to. They can easily be identified as that guy who posted on the Facebook group last night, “does anyone have eng208 notes they could send me? :)” Yet somehow, this asshole still gets a better mark than you.
Over-prepared and losing it — This person is also easily spotted, specifically because the piece of paper they’re holding radiates the overwhelming shine of highlighter ink. Although they’ve already mathematically passed the course, they’re sweating profusely and are visually struggling to breathe. No matter how much they studied, they can’t help but bare a look of complete discomfort as they wallow in self-doubt.
The socialite — Unfortunately, your last minute studying plans are always going to be ruined by someone scurrying around the hallway from group to group using the exam as an opportunity to make friends. “Hey! You guys ready for this or what!?” They always say as everyone around you rolls their eyes — they hate this dick. No matter how much the exam is worth, there’s always some guy who’s using this horrendously sweaty opportunity to say hi to all of the girls he stared at when he was supposed to be taking notes all semester.
The one who’s got all the answers — As you stand among your equally unprepared friends and talk about the exam, someone will often pose a question to the group. This question is often answered by someone you’ve never even met, standing somewhere near you. They intrude on your circle, they jump into your life, they want you to know that they know the answer. They studied, they’re going to get a good mark, and they’re really in need of some new friends. “Thanks a lot John,” you think as you try to make sense of the seamless answer he gave.
The meditator — An important part of any exam scene, this person is found sitting against the wall or leaning against a vending machine with their eyes closed. For these people, this exam is simply a test and the loud noise and frantic studying that surrounds them is merely a distraction to their success.
The gathering — Usually surrounding the bucket of plastic bags that you need to get to in order to protect your personal belongings. For some reason, the room is filled with these large circles of unprepared idiots that feel obligated to form and restrict the natural flow of the room. These groups cause you to walk, elbows up, ducking and shoving through backpacks and binders and armpits to get to your exam. It’s these groups that ultimately result in the unfortunate smell that dominates the room. It’s the smell of wasted money and rising dropout rates.
The outside of an exam room is an unfortunate place for even the most prepared student. It is impossible to spend more than five minutes here without spiralling into a whirlwind of educational panic.
As these feelings of insecurity heighten and you become further convinced that you will in fact fail your exam, the room closes in. You realize that being this stressed out about the principles of macroeconomics might just be easier if you were a chain smoker. Or if you suffocated yourself with one of those plastic bags they hand out.