Wednesday 18th July 2018

Exams. #LTW10. 366/315.

Exams. #LTW10. 366/315.

In determining the {optional} prompt this week I went back down memory lane to:

NOVEMBERS I remember!

When I was in high school this month was always the end of year exams.

However, as the first cohort of the NSW Higher School Certificate it was especially memorable. The exam concludes earlier now than back in 1967.

Seeing the Jacaranda trees with their purple hue, knowing the Melbourne Cup was happening and my parents were celebrating their Wedding Anniversary also meant:


Fast forward to days of being a student teacher, then teacher, post-grad university student and then university tutor/marker and there it is again, November AND Exams.

I could never admit I enjoyed any exam. I am someone who finds it hard to remember everything and under pressure to regurgitate and recall. However, thank goodness for being someone who was satisfied to ‘pass’ rather than gain any further merit up the line. I didn’t mind essay or short answer questions because I could use my words and hopefully convince the marker I knew something. 

My least favourite exams were in Maths and Science (not my best subjects ever!) but at least you got marks for showing how you worked. That’s what they said anyway. And, the ubiquitous multiple choice exam. No. Did.Not.Like.

I failed one exam at teacher’s college and it cost me. I was only allowed to be a conditionally-certificated teacher when I started until I re-sat the exam within my first years of teaching. The humiliation was high but I managed to pass that time. And get the full certification. The subject: Science.


Credit: Sydney University

Credit: The University of Sydney.

This article caught my eye in November and with it being prompt-centred, here it is. Great link to the Jacaranda Tree and Exams at Sydney University. Read more here

What stories do you have to tell about exams?

Share in the comments!

Thanks for linking up if you have. Lovely to see you.

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Next week’s {optional} prompt is: #ltw11 News I Will Never Forget.



  1. I was never any good at exams either Denyse. Although by the time the HSC came around I was so determined to get into Uni that I learned 3 essays verbatim for Modern History and then hoped the questions were such that all I had to do was change the introduction and conclusion. I still can not recall a single fact in Modern History. Not a date, not a battle, not a country, not a leader. But I passed the exam with flying colours. Just goes to show that exams really aren’t a good indicator of knowledge retention. Although it was a great indication that I’d make a pretty decent parrot .

    Thanks for the prompt this week. Thanks for the linky!

    • Wow. You memorised! I couldn’t do that verbatim but I did love Modern History so loved the chance to write about it!! Lucky I had an awesome teacher who encouraged me in Years 11 & 12. I did quite well (got me into the very new Macquarie Uni for a HS teaching degree but I let that go as I wanted a teacher’s college scholarship for K-6 which came eventually) but that was because I finally let the socialising part of school become less important than the study. I also had a boyfriend who was in a Uni course so he and I motivated each other to do well. Nevertheless exams are a pressure environment and not fun!

  2. I didn’t like exams, and because I have very messy writing, it meant I had to write slowly so they could read it, it made it trickier. However, I did learn how to get to the point in few words to be able to get the marks.When everyone wrote 6 or 7 pages in English, I’d write 3, yet still get great marks. I think, more than what I learnt in the exam subject, I learnt how you play the system to get what you want. There really is a way around every obstacle. That is a great lesson for life.

    • My handwriting is disgraceful. I am left handed, and it slopes backwards.I recall that it was a problem for me to keep it legible for the markers! And yes, exams are still written in hand. So may students of the computer era have little chance to hand write that it’s been an issue and schools are now more likely to make them get practice more. It’s actually been used to say its a disadvantage for some. I like your life philosophy …as long as its legal. LOL.

  3. Where do I begin?!?! Anyway, exams were a huge part of life for quite a bit of what I’ve lived so far. Thankfully now over and with the benefit of hindsight, I think I’ve finally put them in the right perspective.

    SSG xxx

    • Sounds like you have been an ‘under pressure to perform’ person in your life in both school and academia…am I right? I have been a principal of a school with gifted students who I find can be incredibly stressed by internal pressure and that from family to perform. I hope you can find a balance for your little’s hard though isn’t it? Exams are an example of more performance anxiety! Take care, SSG!

  4. Exams and interviews were two things that made me nervous. Both were tortuous, yet in exams the multiple choice gave me a chance to consider an answer I was familiar with. All that said, it was as a mature-age student that I became less frightened of both.

    • I think I ‘over think’ responses in multiple choice. Procrastination! I like interviews more. That sounds a bit mad though. I did find over the years that I could prepare for an interview (when I was going for principal’s jobs) with greater ease thanks to writing potential responses and that kind of prep helped. I did an exam as part of one of my mature-age Uni courses and found it hard being in a church hall, at trestle tables and under the pressure of time. Nevertheless I passed. I only ever wanted to pass.

  5. I’m really grateful that studying anthropology undergrad and sociology postgrad I’ve had maybe one exam ever! I think it was for a history subject, but I’m not sure.

    • Glad you are liking what you have studied. My one exam as a mature age student was sociology! I didnt like it much (passed though) as it was short answers and multiple choices. I loved writing responses in History!

  6. What a nightmare to be the first group to do the HSC. No past papers to go off or anything! Ouch.
    I am not a fan of exams ever. Even this driving test was torturous, even though I’ve been driving for more than 10 years!

    • Yes, I did say we were the ‘trial’ people. But there was a lot of confusion over expectations etc. We had to choose subjects from Year 8 onwards that would take us through to HSC if that was the path we were on. There were the compulsory subjects of Maths and English and we had to do two electives. I so wanted to add Art to French. My dad, along with school advice maybe, was not sure Art would be a Uni (matric) subject so I got to do German. I regretted so much not doing the Art …but when I saw how much of it wasnt actually painting then maybe it was OK. My friend who did Art and French got a top pass in HSC and went to Uni of NSW to successfully study architecture. As for the pressure, it is within us all to perform well…but when someone is watching (or going to mark us) it is worse. Glad you passed the driving. I would hate to think how I would go now..even though I have been driving without incident for almost 50 years. Yikes!

      • That’s a bit disappointing that you didn’t get to study art. I had a moment like that when I was choosing my Year 11 electives. I wanted to do Modern and Ancient History but my parents thought I should learn the home making type things so instead I did Food Technology, which was BORING! And also not so much about cooking at all 😛 So I live to be a terrible baker to this day!

        • It is in a way something I can let go…mind you, when I take down some of my art to give to dad (He likes to have it around his apartment) I remind him ‘you wouldn’t let me do art!!’ LOL. Food are an alright baker from the pics I see but it is probably less of an influence of HSC and more about experience! You would have aced both Modern and Ancient History!

  7. My twins have now started year 12. I’m hoping their experience of it is less stressful than mine!


    • I do too. It will be a double-stressed household if not! Best wishes to them, as Year 12 is on’s become a 4th term start in most places.

  8. I did okay at school and Uni but wasn’t a great student. I actually didn’t understand (until doing my Masters) that you don’t need to try to rote-learn everything and that just understanding it was okay.

    As a result I was better at maths and english – stuff you didn’t need to study for…

    • Interesting observation Deb. I am glad you did well. I hated getting to an exam setting (I remember the teacher’s college ones now!) where people were panic-studying at the last minute. I knew enough about me to stay away. I never did ‘get’ the science stuff and what let me down was understand the moon/sun/ earth cycles. Still don’t really get it but at least I passed eventually.

  9. I actually didn’t mind exams although they were stressful. My worst experience was having a relentless bout of food poisoning right before one of my exams in Uni, and fortunately being able to re-schedule it as I was unable to function properly for days and had trips to the doc and the hospital. Not my best exam ever, but at least I got it done. Now November is report writing time for me, and I’m avoiding it at the moment by checking out blogs online! We have a day off today, and that’s what I’ll be doing all day when I get my act into gear!

    • Oh dear. Nightmare! I am glad you were able to get a concession to do it later. As for report writing, oh yes! I have not written a post about it this time round on the blog, but of course I remember! Thanks for dropping by…and good luck!

  10. I was terrible at exams. I believe it may be because I’m on the spectrum and also have (self-diagnosed) ADD. I failed HSC English even though it was one of my better subjects. Sigh. Oh well, those days are over!

  11. I can remember every high school exam Denyse I was sick. I was sick full of a head cold or something. Was just mind over matter at the end of the day but somehow I always seemed to do okay. I guess it’s our first experience with stress and wanting to do well. Thanks for the party.

    Anne xx

    • It is interesting isn’t it to look back and remember! I wonder how your kids view exams…they seem to have fewer of them these days. I am pleased you popped in Anne!

  12. I did mostly SAS subjects so in year 12 I only had 2 exams, Maths and Geography. Maths was a disaster. Not only was I late, I forgot my calculator and had to borrow the teacher’s. Oh did I mention I was completely and totally useless at maths? Only in recent years have I found out I am most likely dyscalculaic. So I spent the last hour or so trimming split ends. I failed, obvs. Geography wasn’t too bad. It included an essay section that I did alright in.

    • Sounds like you are more of a “words person” then….and I have never really understood about maths for some people but dyscalculaic but from what you say, makes sense!! Now, if there is a word like that for science, then that describes me. Thanks Beth!

  13. I didn’t mind exams. My favourite was probably Maths, and I did well, getting the highest score. I actually didn’t mind science either! I think having the right teacher helps too.
    Gee that was nearly thirty years ago!

    • Oh that sounds like you really did enjoy school and more power to the right teachers I say. It can make a huge difference. Maths was hard for me when the teacher was so impatient. Science..oh well, I can come to your blog to learn more about flowers and plants for sure. Thanks so much for sharing. We are all interesting and different learners! Sorry about the time frame reminder… X

  14. I was never very good at exams, I would get so nervous and everything I learnt would go out the window!

    • It is hard when our fears get the better of us. I know what you mean. I bet later on you would remember what you should have written!

  15. I thought long and hard about this prompt Denyse and there were lots of memories that rose to the surface and I decided I’d sooner bury them again than write about them! Haha. Oh my goodness I hated exams. So much anxiety. Having since had quite a bit of experience in adult education I can confidently say that I much prefer competency based assessment methods than the old classroom style exams with time limits and the like. Eeeek! I’m feeling faint just thinking about it! Lol! Hence my completely unrelated linked post about hanging the washing – speaking of competency hehe. 😉

    • Oh dear…at least you were brave enough to comment. Hate that when it brings back memories that are so awful. I taught English to adults too and yes, competency systems are fair. However, I’ve also been a Uni Tutor and student and my goodness, there are life lessons in being a marker!! Glad you chose a subject to blog about that was no stress! D x

  16. You might have failed that once but look at all you have achieved since then!

  17. inthegoodbooksblog says:

    Sadly, I didn’t do as well as I had hoped for my exams. I don’t think that I studied enough. I wish I would’ve applied myself a bit more..

    • Be kind to yourself. Everyone is doing the best they can at a particular time. Brene Brown taught me about that…and so I am passing it on to you!

  18. My girls (yr 9, 11 & 12) have just finished their major exams. So pleased that is out of the way. Such a stressful time.

    No linking up for me today. I’ve been without internet for most of the day and hiding in the shade with the heat (almost 40 degrees here in Perth).

    • That is good to know that your girls have that pressure off them! Don’t ever apologise for not linking up.. I so appreciate you promoting the link up! As for the temperature & internet not behaving .. Boo to both!

  19. I was bad at exams — anxiety always got the better of me. I have thrown up before exams, failed a few exams during different years in high school, and even blanked out during a couple of my psych exams in undergrad due to massive anxiety. So glad I no longer have to do them!

    • Oh my! What pressures we place upon ourselves! At teachers college we had to do 18 exams in a week!! Crazy! I ended up with what I would guess is a panic attack on the weekend before. Mum and Dad got a doctor to come see me and I got some type of tranquiliser.. I did all the exams but failed the one I never I understood!

  20. I was definitely a crammer and was lucky to always have reasonably good grades. I think I was lucky that my schooling started through the Correspondence School, that way self motivation was learnt at a very young age.

    • Oh wow, interesting fact about your schooling there Jan! Were you doing school by correspondence because you lived in a remote area? Sometimes kids also studied that way when travelling. Of course we still have an amazing set up here in Australia for distance education made so much better thanks to the digital age.