After a long winter I sometimes can not remember what trees look like with leaves. Now it is warm and pleasant, the garden is blooming and mid summer is a few weeks away. I have always enjoyed the way Shakespeare describes summer days, lovely and temperate. The change of seasons always feels very abrupt to me as spring’s pastel palette morphs into Turner’s violets, blues and greens. The post exam experience is very similar. It seems right that the emotional and intellectual decrescendo that comes after exams should coincide with lazy summer days. By the time I get home from the testing center all the questions have usually slipped my mind taking my responses along with them. It is like the befuddled feeling after a day in the sun. Suddenly I do not have to read or write anything. It feels quite disorienting after such intense focus. What happens after we sit exams?
The time after exams must be the busiest of the year at Goldsmiths’ College and The University of London International Programme. Our ‘Student Handbook’ outlines what happens after my essays are sealed and shipped and I go home to consider the outcome of my study year. It is very impressive to think of the consideration given to my paper: 2 members of the English and Comparative Literature faculty read my paper independently and assign a score. Then they confer and agree on a combined score. If they cannot agree a third marker is assigned to read my paper. These two or three markers present their reasoning and agreed score to the ‘Board of Examiners’ who finally assign the score which represents my work. To ensure quality and standards intercollegiate examiners from other University of London colleges participate in the marking process.
This marking process is my annual peer-reviewed welcome to academia. It is one of the reasons I enrolled in the International Programme. Thanks to this process I am learning to love literature more and more, and to really appreciate the ability to read and discuss it competently. I am always pleasantly surprised by the very serious way my work is regarded by Goldsmith’s faculty and how generously they encourage me to think creatively, confidently and precisely. When I read my exam score it is very satisfying because I know it represents the considered opinion of some talented, engaging professionals who are incredibly welcoming and want me to succeed according to the highest professional and academic standards.
This year I have benefited professionally and personally from the skills earned in this particular academic program and exam process. I have been delighted to find the specific skills needed in exams have helped me manage complex projects within narrow time limits. My efficiency and productivity have increased along with the quality of the outcomes I have achieved. For me, this process is so satisfying I cannot imagine studying or working any other way.
Studying this way does engage the imagination as well as critical thinking and analysis skills. Long summer days are the perfect time to relax, be a bit creative and consider my revised study plan. The stack of books on the corner of my desk is creating a great sense of anticipation. Each of them is extraordinary and I cannot wait to read them. Every year I become a better reader and a better writer. It is very exciting and inspiring to me and I hope it is for you too.