My first official college exam in nearly twenty years was scheduled to take place two weeks after school started. I’d gone into the semester absolutely convinced that I was going to do horribly in Elementary Statistics because math is my worst subject. It always has been. I’m a writer. I love the English language and stringing words together in such a way as to draw people into what I have to say. I’m a word nerd.
Math, however, left me perplexed.
During those first two weeks of class, I would sit in Stats and wonder when it was going to get difficult. It made an odd sort of sense. Other people in class would ask questions and the professor was always happy to answer as many questions as the class had but all I could think was, “Why aren’t they getting this? It’s so simple!” Then I would feel paranoid, thinking there was something difficult that I was missing. I made sure I read the book and did all of the homework. It all made sense and I really wondered what I was missing.
Exam day finally rolled around. When I study, I get to a point where I know I’m done studying. I either know the material or I don’t. While all my classmates were sitting in the hall before class cramming whatever else they could into their brains, I sat there looking, outwardly at least, calm. Inside I was still convinced that I’d missed something, but was resigned to the fact that I couldn’t study any more than I’d already studied.
Since our class was 75 minutes long, that’s how long we had to take the test. I finished the entire thing in less than 20 minutes. Since no one else had left yet, I went over the entire exam again. Ten minutes later, no one else was done yet and I knew there was nothing else I could do, so I turned in my test and left. I was conflicted. I knew that I’d done well on the test as far as what I’d studied, yet I was still convinced that I’d missed something and would fail the test.
I went home and began obsessively checking my course on-line. The professor said she’d enter our grades into the course as soon as she graded the tests. An hour after class was over my grade still wasn’t posted. I was going out of my mind. (Yes, I knew it was impossible for her to grade the tests that quickly but I wanted to know how I did.) I was just a tad impatient to see what score I had.
The next morning Arcadia came over for Medical Terminology (Med Term). I decided to check to see if the professor had gotten our test grades posted. She had! I screamed and started jumping around. I’d gotten 99% on my first college exam in almost 20 years! I found out the next day that my score was the highest among her two classes. I hadn’t missed anything – stats was just that easy for me.
When my first A&P exam rolled around, I studied all weekend. I sat on the middle of my king-sized bed and had my notes and books and print-outs strewn around me on the bed. The kids ate frozen pizza and spent the weekend playing video games. This was no stats class. I had to work hard. I studied for A&P so much as we went along but I really spent the weekends before tests going over the material again and again.
I got 93.5% on that first test. I had the second highest grade in the class. I found out who had the highest grade and asked her if she wanted to study together. I was bound and determined to do better on the next test than I had on the first one. The professor was allowing us to drop our lowest test grade at the end of the semester and I knew that I wanted to drop that grade.
I don’t know what it was about those tests. No matter what score I got, as long as it was above 90% it was an “A.” For some reason, however, that wasn’t good enough. I wanted 100% or as close as I could come to it. I knew what I had to do – study more! I was pushing myself to get the highest scores in class.
`I’d spent so many years convinced I was stupid and that my memory was failing that it was extremely important to prove to myself that I was more than what Bubba had convinced me I was.