Where do I start? Part 2

See I don’t think this is a very good title. I experienced horror, the cruelty of child labour and endless monotony… The title conveys none of that. But I have given it the same name as last year’s ‘exam post’, because I think it might be cool if this becomes an annual feature. That is until I have no more exams. Which could be never.

Yes gentleladies and gentlemen. I have come out alive from that Hunger Games of secondary education, that dreaded semaine de territoire.

EXAM WEEK

I suppose I am being a touch melodramatic. This year’s exams actually went pretty well. But they were still terrible. Honest. So terrible I haven’t posted all of June. But this is my way to make up for it. This will be another essay post which most of you will skim and a dedicated few will actually read the whole way through. However, if you don’t skim, there will be a special bonus! Totally worth it for 3000 words.

How to Do Your Exams – Part 2

Maths

Maths is probably my favourite subject , so it was a good opener to exam week. I thought (a bit arrogantly) that I would breeze the papers, but especially in the second paper, I had a few ‘What?!’ moments. My compass also failed me as it couldn’t stay still. Why compass why?

Luckily I managed to go back after I’d finished the paper and tidy up my answers. I also got a compass from my friend sitting next to me, so it all worked out in the end. :)

English (writing)

As with last year this was split into a long writing task and a short writing task. And, as usual, I lavished most of my attention on the short writing task i.e. creative writing. In the end they were both basically the same length, despite one being called short and one being called long. Huh.

The long writing task was a *neutral* piece that gave the pros and cons of installing surveillance. In the end I sort of ruined my completely-objective-third-party-outsider-with-absolutely-no-personal-interest-in-the-matter viewpoint by saying that most surveillance fears were rubbish and Britain isn’t going to turn into Airstrip One anytime soon. I tried to be topical so I mentioned Snowden and the NSA scandal but it probably came off a lot less witty than I thought it did.

The short writing task was more in my comfort zone. They gave us a description of a bleak landscape (presumably the dark woods where most of the Twilight scenes took place in*) and we had to continue it.

By Venomxbaby Deviant Art

Mine was much less bleak and more sad. Nothing much happened but it ended up somewhat… Melodramatic. In essence, this is my story.

I was reminded of campfires and eating hazelnuts. I saw a badger in the distance. He ran away and I was sad.

The end.

Some of it was waffle of course. But the badger bit was true. *sniffles*

History

History was one of my most dreaded exams. Last year, the teacher set out precisely what the exam would cover and we could choose what topics we got. However, this year, the teacher was intentionally vague setting out what he wanted, so that we wouldn’t just choose what to learn. It was still set out fairly well, but just sort of… confusing.

Timing was a bit tight, but I finished all the questions. I spent a bit too long on the first question, so I left it and filled in all the one mark questions.

Then I came to the source question. I knew in advance what source was going to be used, because our teacher said it would relate to the turmoil in the Civil War. I don’t know why he put it in the exam even though we’ve already studied this in class. :P But I suppose it went well.

The final question was worth loads of marks, and before I was really confused about what it would entail. Turns out we got a choice of three. I chose “Why do Different Interpretations Come About?” I was silently fist pumping because this was the question I had really wanted to do so it all turned out well in the end.

Technology

Some things never change. As with last year, this was one of my worst exams.

I don’t actually mind Technology. It’s terrifying to think about, but in practice it’s not that bad. Most of the time.

The problem was that the questions in the Technology exam was sort of… precise. In most subjects you have to remember quite detailed facts and figures, but I didn’t really expect that from Tech. The notes I did didn’t take up much space, and most people didn’t make notes at all. Little details came up that I guess we were told – but I didn’t think we would be tested on them.

Woe is me for not revising as I could have. Woe is me.

We also had to design some Wallace and Gromit toys for kids. Given that our Tech teachers are slightly obsessed with Wallace and Gromit, this was no surprise. I’m sure children will love my Wallace and Gromit utility band when it finally makes it to market.

I did finish the test, but some of the answers were complete guesses. I think I’ll get a good mark, but it went nowhere near as well as my other exams. :/

RSS

Last year my RSS exam was a teensy tiny disaster. Considering I spent half the test on a single question and almost no time on a lot of the others, I was pretty happy to get an average mark, but my teacher put in my report that he was disappointed with my results.

In this year’s parents evening, I was also told that if I didn’t get in the 90s, it would be bad, so I was doubly pressurised.

Luckily this was probably the best structured test we had. It was split into four sections (each section had two questions we could choose from) and I stuck to the time constraints recommended for each one, so I finished with a few minutes to spare. It was less fact learning and more essay style questions, but I found it way more interesting that most of my other exams.

Latin

Each test was supervised by a teacher. Most of the them were pretty nice, but the one who supervised Latin was quite cold, like Severus Snape in a suit.

Before the exam had started, I touched the paper to bring it towards me. Which was a mistake. As soon as my finger made contact with the sheet, he hissed “Don’t touch that!”

That should have been the end of it.

The test for Latin is split into translation and grammar. For the grammar, I wrote out all the endings tables I needed to know on a scrap piece of paper. The verb tables were completely useless and I never went back to them, but the noun table came in handy.

Then I went onto the translation. Whenever we translate a passage in a Latin test, we have to do it on alternate lines so the marker has space to annotate. Being the forgetful person I am, I translated an entire paragraph on consecutive lines.

No biggie, I thought. I’ll just continue as usual on alternate lines. Thinking I had better confirm my plan of action with the teacher first, I said something along the lines of, “Oops, forgotten to write on alternate lines. Should I just continue on from now?”

“Write it out again.” he said coolly. There was a collective “ooh” from the class.

The story itself was really easy to translate, as I already knew the story (i.e. Trojan Horse). I’m trying to make some sort of witty Trojan Horse joke, but I just can’t.

ICT

ICT was pretty easy. We had to format some graphs, put them into Word, and print out various stages of our work. Being the perfectionist I am, I didn’t want to print out anything until the end in order to perfect it. This was actually something I stressed over.

Sometimes I wanted to add formatting, but it didn’t say to do so on the sheet and I worried that adding more would somehow make my mark lower. This really annoyed me on so many levels. Half the time I had to restrain myself from going all out and making my tables colour coded.

Music

OK, so this went pretty well. I played “Comptine D’un Autre Été” on the piano, which sounds a lot more pretentious and complicated than it actually is. I was really nervous in the run up, but I pulled myself together and started to play.

First off, the song uses the pedal of the piano heavily to achieve a slightly reverberant effect, thoughtful almost. But the pedal was so squeaky it kind of ruined the mood, bearing in mind I lift it every few seconds. My leg was also shaking uncontrollably throughout the piece and I made a few mistakes. Even still, when I sat back down in my seat, I found people did like it. They also thought I was slightly insane.

Let me explain.

When I play the piano, I am not very composed or solemn. I move around… a lot. Generally when I play quietly I end up hunched and when I play loudly I do the opposite.

With this song, I ended up rocking back and forth and back and forth throughout the piece… Supposedly I looked ‘slightly possessed’ and ‘in a trance’. But I can live with that. It probably made the performance much more interesting to watch.

French

We had already done the speaking and listening outside of Exam Week (in case you’re interested, which I doubt you are, I got 19/20 on my speaking), so in the French Exam we did writing and reading. Writing was pretty easy as we got given the questions beforehand to prepare – although for the last question, I panicked, thinking I only had a few minutes left, only to go back and add asterisks and extra sentences. Reading is a bit of a haze to me, but it also went pretty well. One of the questions was about some robbery, but apart from that, it wasn’t exactly riveting material.

Biology

Out of the three sciences, biology is my least favourite, which is strange considering I have two doctors for parents. It just annoys me. I don’t mind it, but I don’t particularly like it either. The test was pretty hard for everyone. Some of the topics we just hadn’t covered in class. Why is yeast respiration useful in bread dough production? Wasn’t this in our Food Tech booklet and not our Biology textbook?!

I guess I shouldn’t really moan, but I’m British. I’ll probably get a good result. Biology and Tech broke the pattern of fairly easy exams, but on their own, they weren’t diabolically hard (although Tech did come pretty close).

We also had Mr. Shouty for the exam – the one who supervised our Geography test last year and gave us all heart attacks by screaming out times. Since now we’ve known him for a year, I was hoping he would have mellowed to us. It looked as though there would be no heart attacks until right near the end of the exam, at which point he shouted, “Two more minutes!” A few people shuddered, but there weren’t any mini-earthquakes like last year. Thinking this was the end of it, I looked through my test.

But at the very end of the exam, the teacher bellowed the great grandparent of all shouts. It was beyond loud. “STOP WRITING! (x ∞)” he screamed. I apologise for my use of multiple exclamation marks and excessive formatting. I know it makes me look uneducated and slightly tacky, but sometimes the rules have to be broken.

The next thing I know, I’m sitting in a hospital bed with cotton in my ears being told through the medium of dance that I was subjected to sounds above 150 dB and subsequently became deaf.*

Physics

After Biology, Physics was suspiciously easy. True there were some iffy questions, but there always are, right? There were a few long answers, but no big explanations. Why couldn’t the Biology test have been like that? Although at the very end, I was still writing because in the last minute I had noticed a major mistake.

My only worry about this test is that recently another form got their results and stuff went down. I.e. even though the test seemed to be easy, the marking scheme is supposed to be incredibly strict. I still have no idea what I got yet, but I’m not as hopeful as I was before. D:

Chemistry

Strangely enough Chemistry was even easier than Physics. The first eleven questions were all multiple choice and the rest were all short and snappy answers. Before the test, we had been told we would need a calculator, so I went through the whole test expecting a wild equation to appear, subscripts and all, which I would have to balance using my amazing Chemistry skills. Nothing happened. If you’re not skimming, use the word ‘horrible’ in a comment below. I finished the test before the halfway bell, as did many. Looking around, I saw half the people in the room on their calculators. Curious, I looked through the test to see if any questions needed a calculator, but I found nothing. They were probably typing swear words into their calculators to pass the time. Boys will be boys.

Art

Last year, I didn’t have a proper art exam. Everyone drew some boxes for an hour (and a half) and it was all fine and dandy. No individuality, not much creativity, just drawing some boxes.

Of course, this year the Art Department totally upped their game. No, we didn’t get to plan our own drawings. No, we couldn’t use paints or other media. No, the exam wasn’t longer than an hour and a half.

This year… we drew reflective surfaces.

Not that I’m complaining.  Even with this I struggled with the timing. Sometimes I can get a bit perfectionist, and art is no exception, so I wasn’t really sure I’d finish on time.

There were loads of shiny things on the table I was sitting at, and people were seated all around it. In the beginning, we got given ‘viewfinders’ to help us get the right amount on the page. After a bit of fiddling around with the viewfinder, I found (lucky me) that in order to fill my page, I had to draw pretty much everything on the table.

I spent the first half of the exam drawing a vague outline and the rest shading it. In the last five minutes, I decided to draw an entirely new item to fill in the gaps on my sheet (we get marks for composition). At the end of the exam, the teacher said that we could leave, but she also gave us five extra minutes if we wanted to tidy our drawings up. Despite being finished, I took the extra five minutes, thinking I could refine it further… but I was one of the only ones to stay behind. In the end there were three or four people still in the room, and two of them were just slow at packing up their stuff. Embarrassed, I wrote my name in the bottom right corner and sprinted away as fast as I could.

Greek

As with Latin, the exam was split into grammar and translation. I started the grammar, but I felt a bit slow and sleepy, so I skipped onto the translation. It was some  fable about a wolf and a stork, but on searching it up on the Internet, I found the test COMPLETELY MESSED UP THE STORY. In the actual story, the wolf was the bad guy who needed to be taught some morals, but in the Greek translation, it was the stork. Either that or I completely failed my translation.

Let’s hope not.

Anyhow, I flipped over to find the grammar section, forgetting it was on the same page as the translation. And guess what I found? A whole other page! I was kind of shocked. Imagine if I hadn’t done both sides?

After I had done the comprehension questions on the other side, I was about to go onto the grammar, but I felt a sudden heroic urge. What if some other poor kid hadn’t realised there were two sides? After deciding to get the word out about this slightly alarming discovery, I found to my dismay that I was in an exam and couldn’t talk.

I flipped around my exam paper a few times, but there were no gasps of realisation from the surrounding tables. So I timidly put my hand up and asked the teacher, “Is the test double-sided?”

No reaction. I looked around, expecting someone to have benefited from my bravado. Alas, no one. I told the teacher, “Never mind.” and did the grammar section slightly down. But not for long…

Geography

Geography was the final exam! Yay! Our teacher kind of intimidated me though – he wasn’t scary as such, but I put off going to the toilet until after the exam. The actual exam was filled with essay type questions, but I knew how to answer most of them, so hopefully I got good marks. I finished in good time and then it was over! *yippee*

After school I texted all of my friends that I felt ‘light and fluffy’. I guess I was kind of hyper. Not high though – I promise.

Now all that’s left is to get the results… I doubt I’ll do another follow up post for them, but I’ll let you know if anything interesting happens. :)

Joe.

P.S. I’ve never actually watched or read the Twilight series, but as far as I can tell, lots of scenes take place in a deserted, dark forest. Probably not an accurate picture of the series, but that’s life. :P

P.P.S. Happy Fathers’ Day! In England it was on Sunday, but in America I think it was a few days earlier. In case you’re wondering, I gave my dad a handmade card.

Also, is anyone watching the World Cup? I suppose I’m meant to be, but I’m not really that interested. :P

And apologies if there are any typos, it’s late and I’m sleepy. :)

EDIT: WordPress has been glitching and this didn’t show up in anyone’s reader, so I’ve republished it with an edited time stamp. Hopefully it’ll work better. :)

*This may have been partially embellished, but how much, I will not say.

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Tech Battle: eBook vs Paperback

The battle you've all been waiting for...

The battle you’ve all been waiting for…

So I got bored. I needed to post. :P Oh well. Welcome to a new feature called Tech Battle! I pit some of the most popular (and not so popular) technological companies and innovations against each other, or against their old classic counterparts. I chose this one as I don’t have to do much research. ;) At first I’ll do some of my own choice, but I hope to get recommendations once I get a big enough readership.

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Smiley face!

Hello again. I think I might try and do a post every day, at least in the holidays, but you can never be sure. :P

So this is my second post. I might as well do something technology-related, so let’s start off with faces! Or to clarify, emoticons: :) :( :P.

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Welcome Earthlings!

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Ahem. That was bad. But you’re still reading aren’t you? Unless you were put off…

Anyway, this is my first post. I love technology, and this will mainly be a technology blog, but keep in mind I may post the odd titbit every now and then. ;) I’ve done multiple blogs before, but none of them have really been successful. Recently I made a post on an old blog with my cousin, and I was surprised to find the post was recommended by another website.

But um… I didn’t want to continue on that blog because it had an *ahem* embarrassing URL. So here we are. By the way, my name’s Joe.

Hope to see you around. :)