Those exam horrors still haunt my dreams

It’s sunny outside (or at least it was at the time of writing this column) so it must mean one thing and one thing only - exam season.

I’m greatly enjoying the fact that as my children are still so young, exam season in all its horror hasn’t yet been visited upon us (although the boy is going into Primary Six in September and short of a miracle will be hurtling towards the transfer test at an alarming rate).

But still I see the young ones walking about, pale and worried, clothed in heavy, overly warm uniforms, studying when they really, in fairness should be out in the sunshine enjoying the precious few days we get of it in this country each year.

This time of year always brings back memories of my own exams - the cramming, the studying into the wee hours, the meltdowns when I was convinced nothing was going in and I would hit a complete blank when sat in that exam hall, at those tiny desks, with a couple of pens to keep me company and the thought of a three hour slog ahead of me.

I’m not sure the fear of exams ever leaves you - or the pressure you feel. It’s guaranteed that whenever I feel under pressure I will have a dream that I’m back in my Thornhill uniform waiting to sit my History A Level again panicking that I remember nothing and trying to recall facts learned almost 20 years ago.

The feeling as the clock ticks towards the start of the exam is horrible - I can feel the sweat prickle on my brow, the thumping of my heart, the sheer fear that I will fail or be sick or run out screaming.

The relief when I realise in my dreams those days are behind me is immeasurable.

There is little quite as daunting as an exam room - where you know your future will be decided in the following few hours. How well you answered questions throughout the year doesn’t count any more. How many hours spent doing homework and attending classes don’t count. It all comes to that little window, those few questions and your ability to keep your cool when all around are losing theirs.

I remember one university exam when after approximately ten minutes one of my classmates simply walked out, declaring she couldn’t do it.

I sat, staring at the questions in front of me, and back at the door where she had left and part of me admired her for admitting when she was beaten.

For those, whoever, who still have exams to sit, and who aren’t just in the middle of a bad dream - good luck.

And try not to run out screaming.