All work and no play

…makes Jack a dull boy, or so they say.
What about exams though? Where do exams fit into that adage?
My first week this term was taken up with exams – my first for a few decades, so I was feeling a little rusty. However, I’m running far too far ahead of myself: before we get to the exams, who remembers revision?

I embarked upon my revision programme eagerly enough, drawing up a schedule for revising ten topics, spread over ten days or so, with slots for trial questions from past-papers, other periods dedicated to recap and summarising, and even timed mock-exams to complete entire past-papers under pseudo-exam conditions. Sounds OK? Sounds organised? Sounds great.

Oh what a chore!

I had completely forgotten what a pain revision really is – it was all about discipline and perseverance. Put simply: a slog. All work and no play for the first two weeks of January; no wonder I was a dull boy. Don’t worry though, it was all in a good cause, right? It was all worthwhile, yes? I mean the exams were a doddle after all that revision? Here’s another adage: “Exams are a just a measuring stick, the same as a ruler.” Stand up straight while I measure your height; take this exam while I measure your attainment. Exams certainly never worried me in the past; I generally enjoyed the challenge and looked forward to the outcome, whether that met my hopes and expectations or not. So why then did I feel under so much time-pressure this time around during the exams? In the absence of other data I might have concluded that indeed I am slowing down, the brain atrophying, knowledge and focus seeping away – maybe I should have stayed on the golf course last autumn rather than heading off to college? However, it seems I was not alone: many of my classmates also reported the same sensation of lack of time in the exams. So perhaps there is still hope for me after all.

Anyway the exams are over. I don’t think I have disgraced myself, even though there was one question in every paper which I made a mess of (at least a small mess) – time will tell. Or rather the grades will tell, when they’re published.

More importantly, now the exams are over (for now) I’ve had time to redress the balance and bring some excitement back into the life of dull boy Jack. Time to get back into a more normal student routine, seeking out the interesting and following up on what takes my fancy, rather than the confines of a rigid revision programme. That was good for a couple of weeks, a necessary constraint and a means to an end, but studying really is more interesting when those shackles are cast aside and the mind is free to wander where it will. And doing other stuff – bringing back some play into life is not only more fun, it also makes me more productive.

So that’s my next focus: to live a little, to live it up a little.

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