How to Ace Exams – A Handy Guide

Welcome to finals, where the rules are made up and the points will affect every step of your adult life. (How’s that for a cheerful opening line?) You know that time of year. Economics textbooks replace Archie Comics. When you accidentally name your angle “BAE,” you don’t want to Snapchat it. Biology textbooks are no longer your destination for dirty jokes. Life is bleak.

Some angry semi-adults will tell you to ignore all advice floating around but I disagree. A lot of aunties will insist you eat all you can and not think about getting fat because “that’s not important right now.” Do you really want to disregard such gems?

Sometimes you want some help getting through this difficult time. Your older siblings won’t help you. Your trauma will bring back some sweet memories, made sweeter still by the fact that we’re now over that hump. There’s no getting around our sadism but if you must know, we’re now hunting for full time, grownup jobs. Feel better? Let’s talk in five years.

Want motivation? There are a million clichés out there, waiting to be tweaked to sound unique. If motivation is what you want, type “sdlfjlsdjf” into Google. (Or Paint. Anything.) You’ll have a million quotes telling you to rise and charge into the world, written by a guy hiding in his blanket fort as he types.

Me? I don’t motivate. Partly because I have the motivational power of a chewed up toothbrush, partly because I’m afraid I’ll advise you into rebellion. I don’t want it on my conscience when you suddenly start listening to 70s love songs and reconnecting with your inner child.

But I can tell you how I handled the exam stress. I took charge of the situation and questioned everything like a true scientist. And by everything, I mean physics problems designed by geniuses who bring innocent birds, boats and planes into the picture. Here are some actual questions from my darker days in a science class.


A bird is flying horizontally at a speed of 32 km per hour. A boy throws a ball upwards at a 60 degree angle. At what point will the ball hit the bird?

Now wait a sec, professor. Why aren’t we teaching this violent boy some manners? What kind of bird is it? What if it’s an angry, revengeful kite? If it swoops down on him, will the boy deserve it? Discuss.

A man is standing at the center of a rotating turntable with his arms stretched. If he draws his arms inward and reduces his moment of inertia by a factor k, what is the angular speed of the turntable?

I’m sorry, but you lost me at “with his arms stretched.” No matter how I picture it, it won’t stop being funny. Are his arms stretched upwards? Sideways? Right in front of him? Does he alternate these poses like a PE teacher? Does he draw his arms inwards while rotating, like a ballerina?

I never pursued a future in science. What gave me away?

Now I was a science student (and a brilliant one, if you haven’t noticed) but that doesn’t mean my advice is for the scientifically minded alone. In fact, I never thought I would ever be considered “for the science kids only,” so I’m trying to tune out the laughter in my head. I have no guidelines, but feel free to question economics and accountancy. And psychology. And whatever it is you kids learn today. It’s a nice change for your brain – the poor thing deals with too many stupid questions.

But really, good luck. Before you know it, this will be a thing of the past and you’ll spend your summer watching reruns of terrible TV shows instead of ticking off every item on your adventurous to-do list like you were supposed to. But if it all gets overwhelming and you want some pearls of wisdom, look for me. I’ll be in my blanket fort.

2 thoughts on “How to Ace Exams – A Handy Guide

  1. I have my last exam today, and this is just what I needed! 😀
    Q. What do you understand by Boundary Controls in IT?
    Can I answer this with, “Don’t understand it” and still get full marks, ’cause that IS the correct answer, isn’t it? XD

    Liked by 1 person

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