Ask Natalie: Exams, exams and exams!

“Dear Natalie,

It was just my first exam season and I’m really, really worn out. I didn’t think I would be so tired or it would be so stressful. I’m going back home, and I really feel the urge to just crawl into bed and never, ever come back to UBC. I mean, I’m doing well and I’m passing my classes if that’s the minimum we’re going for, but I’m just not happy.

Is this normal or what?”

Yeah, that's really a feeling I think most of us get. Exams are exhausting. It's an exhausting time and I think we're all thankful for winter break.

Exams tend to be the last leg of a marathon and everyone always tries running at full speed during it. It will drain you. You will feel tired, grumpy and desperate for distraction. But we will get through it. We always do. And so will you.

Everyone around knows the feeling, so reach out and talk to them. Of course, if you find you're feeling extra down, talk to UBC Counselling or another mental health service. Remember that your mental health is just as important as your physical health!

In the meantime, enjoy that sweet, sweet time at home. For those of us who don't go home often, it's a miracle worker. When you don't have to go to work, someone's generally willing to feed you and whatever your mom says, you get to sleep in. Pure magic.

It's a wonderful time of the year, but please come back to UBC. I'll miss you if you don't.

“Dear Natalie,

I'm 90 per cent sure I just failed my exam. I went in there and thought I had it, and I looked at the page and it was everything I didn't study. Fuck. It's not a required course, but I've never failed before. Shit. I feel like crap.”

Deep breath. You don't know you failed. Unless you actually knew nothing that was tested — or in the space where you were supposed to write your essays, you just drew a picture of a cat crying — you might have actually passed. Most profs and TAs don't want you to fail, even if it doesn't seem that way. They could be looking for places to give you marks, especially if it had essay questions.

And even if you did fail the exam, unless it was worth 100 per cent of your grade or it was required you pass the exam to pass the class, your other assignments might have saved your butt. Don't give up hope. Final marks are not out yet.

Fun story time: Once I took a course with a friend and he absolutely hated the class. I mean, he skipped almost every class, and he complained about the course and its professor every time he did manage to come.

Exam time came. He had a similar reaction to yours. Guess what happened? Our prof lost the essay portion of his exam and told him only the (stupidly easy) multiple choice portion would count towards his final grade.

He passed the class with flying colours.

I'm still a little bitter about it to be honest.

Anyway, moral of the story — you haven't failed until marks are in and the curve has been applied. Don't give up hope.


Merry Christmas! Thanks for writing your column. It's super helpful. I read it all the time and just wanted to say I really enjoy it. I hope your exam season is going well!”

Well, gosh. You'll make my ice-cold heart melt. I hope your exams went well and you have a great time on your break. I'll see you all again in January! ?

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