Ending with exams

by Gemma Bayly, Kaipara College

At the Year 13 prize giving a few weeks ago, the stage at the front of the Kaipara College hall was full of shining trophies. Two beautiful bouquets of flowers adorned the stage. Year 13s grinned as they received their awards at the last prize giving they had to attend at Kaipara College.
The next time I went into the hall it was very different. Rows of desks were lined up in the stark white hall. Exam papers lay on the desks, ready for the students. Signs were splattered here and there on the walls saying, ‘No watches allowed.’
There is a routine to exams. Students file in silently to the hall as their names are called, throwing bags down at the back before finding their seats. Some students are jittery, some icily calm. Other students glance around nervously, looking for something. An escape, perhaps? At the supervisor’s word, students rip open the plastic exam packs and wait to begin the exam. For the next three hours, they are to stay in the exam room, but actually, most students leave before their time is up.
There is always that one person whose phone rings in the exam hall, despite stern warnings to turn all phones off beforehand. The school bell is startlingly loud when you are engrossed in a math problem, and the scraping of a chair as someone leaves can be equally distracting.
For some exams, the hall is full of rows and rows of students (and the occasional empty desk for no shows). In other exams, there is only a smattering of people at the front.
Afterwards, students wait outside, comparing answers. “How did you find the exam?”
“Not good.” “I think I did well on the first paper!” “The one about the zips was hard!” “I got 22m. What did you get?” “Whoops.”
There is even a bit of exam envy. Some people have no exams or had their last one when others still had three or four left. Some unfortunate students have four exams in one week. I was fortunate to have my exams a few days apart.
It is almost a relief to do the exams. Earlier in the year, we wondered if we would even be able to have them. Then, a few months ago, we were told that they would still go ahead in Level 3, dashing some students’ hopes.
I had my maths exam on a teacher only day, so the only students in the school were those doing exams. I was surprised to find I was the only student on my morning bus. A bit different from the usual overcrowding!
After the last exam ends students head off to summer jobs, holidays by the beach or just home to mooch around until school starts again. In mid January, our results will arrive and we once again will be thrown back into the reality of school and grades.

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