Exams are intense at University of Melbourne. At least, that's what I thought earlier this semester when I had my two mid semester exams. A few days before the exams, I was sent emails by my professors indicating my seat assignment. The exam hall on campus probably held about 500 numbered desks all in rows. No bags were allowed to be brought in and proctors constantly walked up and down the aisles. It was intimidating. But after having two final exams, I've decided the final exam process is on a whole different level of intensity.
At NYU, I've never once had assigned seating for an exam. I'd just show up, usually at the room where classes were held, and take the exam. No big exam hall, no scary proctors and no seat assignment. Simple. Exactly the opposite of how University of Melbourne does exams.
Before SWOT Vac, I checked my student portal to find out when and where my exams were. I was pleased with the spacing of my exams. But on closer observation, I noticed that my exams were located at the Royal Exhibition Building. This building is not on campus. In fact, it's not a University of Melbourne building at all. It's actually one of the world's oldest exhibition pavilions and is World Heritage listed. Luckily, when my friends and I go to British Crown every Sunday for $3 pizzas, we walk by the building, so I knew exactly how to get there.
I also noticed the seat numbers. Seat number 2772. That meant I would be with at least 2771 other students sitting in a room, taking an exam. Mind blown.
I had essentially the same experience Monday as I did today. I arrived to Carlton Gardens around 8:05am. There was already a huge herd of anxious students waiting outside the doors guarded by exam proctors. I didn't bother to bring a bag this time. It took me about 15 minutes on Monday to finally get in the trailer where the bags were kept, get my bag and get out. So all I had on me this morning was my phone, wallet and a few pens. I was listening to music, relaxing as I stood waiting to be let inside the building. All of the sudden a guy elbowed me really hard. I glared at him, but obviously it did no good because he was oblivious to everything else in the world besides getting as close as he could to the exam doors. Chill out man, it's just an exam. There were 3000 other students who were just as eager to get in, there was no prize for getting in first.
When the doors finally opened, it was madness. People were pushing to get in. PUSHING TO GET INTO AN EXAM HALL. Again, mind blown. If anyone were to have fallen, they would've gotten trampled and one would've noticed. It was crazy. Think getting into Walmart on Black Friday first thing when they open. That kind of crazy.
After getting inside, all I could hear above the murmur of students was "NO BAGS, LEAVE YOUR BAGS OUTSIDE." And all I could see were desks. Desks upon desks upon desks. About 3000 of them. All in perfect lines. This morning, I was conveniently in the front row and didn't have to look hard for my seat. After sitting, I looked up and noticed pretty murals on the walls and ceiling. The Royal Exhibition Hall is beautiful, but now, it will always be tainted in my memory from the stressful hours I've spent slaving over exams.
No need to write your name on the front of your exam booklet, you're known as your student number. Another interesting difference. I don't think there's ever been a time where I haven't written my name on an exam. Ever. At 8:15, reading time was announced. Reading time is optional and allows you to flip through the questions and start figuring out how to answer them. During the 15 minutes of reading time, students continued to flock in.
At 8:30, the exam officially started. It was unbelievable how quiet a big hall with 3000 students could be. All you could hear were pens and pencils writing and the rustle of paper. It was actually kind of cool.
This exam was much easier than the exam I had on Monday and I was done within an hour. Conveniently, since the proctors walked by constantly, I was able to grab the attention of one and get checked out of the exam. She placed a little green card over the number on the desk, indicating my exam was finished and I left.
Thoughts on the Process.
The exam system at Melbourne Uni is completely different from what I've experienced at NYU. It's definitely time efficient - about 10 exams are administered at one sitting I believe. And from my two experiences so far, it seems virtually impossible to cheat on an exam. After already going through three years of uni, it was a shock experiencing such a different exam process. However, if I experienced only this process from the start, I think it would've been easy to get used to and better in the long run. I think cheating on exams is a problem in America, and I've seen it happen during my time at NYU. It's really not fair and that's what this system is ultimately meant to do - give everyone a fair assessment where no one has an advantage whatsoever.
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