Time passes. But time is typically experienced as passing very quickly in an exam. The pressure to get through all the questions changes the experience of time. Pressure makes it difficult not only to deliver good answers but pressure also makes it difficult to track and manage time. Running out of time is a common experience in exams, only adding to in-exam anxiety levels – as the time limit approaches – and to the after-exam experience – ‘I could not do everything I needed to do!’
Outside of exams, lots of students have experience with time and its relevance to and management in performance settings. Studying music? It is hard to progress in music without an understanding of time and its meaning and ‘management’ playing a piece. Get into a band or into an orchestra without a sense of time keeping – wouldn’t think so! Boxers often learn to train for 2-3 minute rounds with skipping sessions, each active skipping time period matching the duration of a competitive round. The process targets fitness clearly, but, importantly, it targets the internalisation of time and the scope properly-managed time gives to boxing clever – being on the front foot, taking rests, going for broke approaching the bell. The phrase ‘saved by the bell’ is rich in nuance about time management!
Exam Takers need to learn about time and about how to control the experience and use of time throughout an exam. Like most things, this often does not come naturally. It is a skill, one that needs to be practiced . . . and practiced. Perhaps it is a good thing that a 30 minute time for an answer is always, well, 30 minutes. The duration of 30 minutes does not change with the weather or the location. But the experienced ‘duration’ of 30 minutes can and does change if approached in the wrong way.
‘TIME UP’ is a pressure proposition in an exam, but the manner of travelling through EXAM TIME can be worked on – practiced – and improved.
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