Exams exams – I hate exams

9 04 2010

I’ve never been very used to exams, but I’ve never had that may either. But I’ve never really thought of myself as someone who struggles hugely with them. I was wrong.

In Spain’s – exams are how they teach. All my student friends are always studying for exams. And not just small tests or quizzes – proper, large percentage exams. I don’t know how they manage to spread out 100% in so many large chunks?! As well, the means of ‘encouragement’ here is really different. One of my friends was failed in a Math exam and was so rocked by it given her capacity in the area,  that her parents came to the school to speak with the teacher. His answer was of course she’d done well, but he did want her relaxing – he wanted to give her something to aim for. This isn’t uncommon.  There seems to be a thought that if someone goes worse in exams they’ll be spurred on to study harder, do better and achieve more. Yeah right!? Failing has never made me want to do anything but give up. I think my first attempt at Spanish in Uni pretty well demonstrated that…

So how do you deal when you don’t fit the system you’re under? My school doesn’t have that approach, but they do love exams. Every fortnight. I tried to explain that since I’m getting half the hours, I should be examined half as often. Falls on deaf ears. The response is the it’s just exercises that you do in class and helps you learn. I think not. I have up to 1 ½ hours, doing exercises and unable to ask or clarify things I don’t understand in the moment I hit them. Then I get marked on an exercise that is assessing one part of the grammar, and might have totally conquered that particular structure – but for every stray article or incorrect word ending or spelling error, I lose a mark. So at the end I end up deflated and defeated and having learnt very little from the whole exercise. Since I study just as much with our without the exams – and marks don’t propel me to learn more (being unable to communicate is compelling enough) I just can’t the value.

But this is part of learning Spanish culture and I’m sure there are a lot of Spaniards who spend their whole education in a system that isn’t building them up. And on the whole, my teacher is incredibly encouraging by comparison – having become well used to teaching a few of the more precious foreigners like me, who need to be coddled 🙂

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