A 24-hour exam??
‘What’s that?’ ‘Is that even a thing?’ ‘Are you lying to me?’ – are but just a few of the responses I have received when I announced to my friends that I would be going into recluse for a day.
This 24-hour exam is part of the assessment for my AN102 Reading Other Cultures: Anthropological Interpretation of Text and Film module. It is a cross-breed of coursework and a timed exam, I suppose. So instead of having three hours for three essays, I get twenty-four! Not too bad a way to start the exam period, actually, considering I don’t have to memorise any quotes, facts, author’s names, etc.
In this course we studied six books of ethnographies, supplemented with several relevant films on the themes of witchcraft, poetry, and race. Hence the reason they decided to give us twenty-four hours, so we could refer to these films and books.
Such a novel exam format naturally requires novel ways of preparation. It was quite confusing at first, as I wasn’t sure how exactly I should go about it. For the decade plus of my education, I have been trained to practice, memorise, and regurgitate (while answering the question, yes, my teachers, I remember what you said!) within a short period of time. So when you get twenty-hour hours instead of three, what should you do?
In case any of you take the AN102 module or modules with similar exam formats next year, I read through all my books and typed out key quotes, prepared my bibliography of all the books and films that we studied beforehand, and instructed my friends to deliver lunch to me! (My friend did turn up with some duck noodles and grapes, which was extremely sweet J)
The questions were uploaded onto Moodle at exactly 10am, so we just had to log on to Moodle, download the pdf file, and time started to tick away. I made pretty good progress with my first essay, finishing it in about five hours (including lunch). The second however, took around eight… I was pretty determined to finish all three of them by 2am and get some sleep before editing them in the morning, but alas even the pressures of an exam could not combat the allure of my bed. I worked on my third essay at 5am and was thankfully done by 8am!
Spent another hour checking names, citations, etc. Because brains love to make funny and unexpected mess-ups when you’re sleepy, especially with foreign names. And that was it! One exam down, and three more to go. Timed, three hour exams this time though.
Judging from my coursemates’ responses before and after the exam (surprisingly quiet, everyone must have gone to bed right after submitting), some people found the 24-hour exam to be an interesting way of assessment as it recognises that not everyone performs well under the typical examination conditions. Like me, they probably appreciated more time to plan, formulate arguments, and write in a more refined manner. On the other hand, some felt a 3-hour exam would have been more ideal. After all, the pain would be over faster. With a 24-hour exam, the teachers also obviously expect a lot more quality, and a bibliography (ah, the pain of checking page numbers).
Not being confined to a classroom or examination hall also means that I had to find my own conducive area to finish the essays. I stayed in my hall room, which was mostly okay, except for some construction going on in the day and my bed being less than a metre away from my table. Some of my course mates chose to go home, while others did it in the school library or a common area in their hall. I think anywhere relatively quiet should be fine, as long as you have access to water and food!
To conclude (and this is where I blank out in my essays), if you are choosing your modules next year and find out that part of the assessment is a 24-hour exam, you know what to expect! (or not, some people think you can never recover from the trauma of a 24-hour exam. *shrug*)