I delayed writing this post until after results (didn’t want to jinx myself) but I do think it is an important one to write.
Exam term is scary, I won’t lie about that. But this last term has really shown me a thing or two about life at Cambridge, and having successfully come out the other side, more or less in one piece, I will try and describe them to you, my avid readers. Lol.
The intensity of life at Cambridge is one of the best parts of studying here. Everything is done at a fast pace, work, extracurricular activities, your social life, and that makes for very short, very busy terms. During exams, this steps up a notch, and at the height of the exam period it can at times feel overwhelming. Luckily, the colleges provide excellent support and your friends and peers are going through the same experience so it doesn’t feel like you are the only one. My college provided this support in different ways – from free doughnuts, coffee and bananas outside the library every day (EVERY DAY!!) throughout Easter Term, various sessions run by the chaplains and Welfare officers of our JCR committee (our own college’s student union) including yoga, mindfulness and meditiation to fortnightly movie nights in college, with films including Gravity, 10 Things I Hate About You and Frozen, although disappointingly not the singalong version.
Revision is never enjoyable, but I did find revising my course surprisingly satisfying. My exams were all structured the same way, 3 essays in 3 hours. This meant that I could devote my time to the parts of each subject that I was most interested in, whilst trying to make sure I knew enough of enough of the course to be generally well-prepared. I spent most of my time in the college library, reading new material as well as rereading key texts from throughout the year, and compiling and connecting all of the information that had ended up in my brain, or on my laptop over the last year into something that vaguely made sense.
The exams themselves were surprisingly, just exams. This came as a bit of a shock to us freshers, many of whom had expected to be asked to answer ridiculously difficult questions and write countless pages of groundbreakingly original analysis of Marx, Hobbes or whoever it was that we had been studying. Actually, once I had sat one, I realised that they weren’t expecting me to pull off intellectual miracles, but simply show what I had learned this year. And given the vast amount I have learned, that actually turned out to be a manageable task.