Exam Confessions

Image: ©️ Montage put together by Lex Rodriguez with “Day 23 – Exam hall” by jackhynes is marked with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. and “(245/365) Mwah shhh ponder” by Sarah G… is marked with CC BY 2.0.

Ever (gasp!) cheated on an exam? Ever seen someone else cheat? Or did you ever fail miserably and dramatically at an exam? You’re not alone! UNIL students tell us all about their scandalous secrets and epic fails surrounding their past exams. Don’t tell anyone!

“For some reason, when I was a kid, my classmates always thought I was really good at tests so they always wanted to copy my answers. However, growing up, I very quickly developed a very adult-looking and not always very legible hand-writing which prevented others from copying my answers and these kids had the AUDACITY to ask me to write more legibly so they could copy my answers. Shaking my head.”

“Not me but a friend, who cheated on a German written exam so hard that they got a team of friends to help them: They wore long, baggy clothes under which they had set up a receiver for an earpiece (FBI-style), as well as a concealed camera which could capture images of the test sheet. One friend would get a streamed video of the camera’s feed and work on answering the questions in German. Another friend worked with a microphone to transmit the answers to my friend who would then copy them out. Two other friends were there to stand watch and make sure that the relay team wasn’t found out by the examiners. They ended up passing their exam :)”

“To this day after years here I still put my name where I have to put my surname and vice versa. But worst of all I put my student number where the teachers should put my grade”

“When i still was in middle/high school, the best strategy was always the post-it note on the chair, in between the thighs. Just slightly spread your legs, and poof, get all the knowledge you need.”

“My high school math teacher was too lazy to give us test sheets, so she’d always just tell us to bring a pad of sheets of paper. A few times we had to learn proofs of theorems by heart, so just copied those demonstrations on the last pages of the pad, and discretly check those out. I even once directly used a sheet with the proof pre-written and turned that one in.”

“I don’t know why, but during a preparation for my oral exam I found out that my phone was still in my pockets. I was prepared so I didn’t use it but I still sent snaps to all of my friends telling them about it. I was much more worried about hiding it once I entered the class LOL”

“I had my very first oral exam ever in 32 years of life this past exam session. I was really nervous for weeks leading up to it. The morning of the exam, about 10 minutes before go time, I stepped outside for a breath of fresh air on an Anthropole 5th floor balcony. I was nervous & distracted, & figured I should check to see if the door automatically locks from the outside after it was already closed. I locked myself out in the cold until the supervising prof came by and kindly let me back inside…. so beware of balconies with no ash trays!”

“I’m a nightowl, which means my alarms are set pretty late in the morning since I go to bed pretty late too. So, I had a written exam once starting at 8am. Around 10am I start hearing some Billy Joel music, and I was like ‘oh someone is listening to Billy Joel outside, NICE!’ and then it occured to me that it was my alarm coming from my phone in my backpack that was chilling against the wall x)”

“I’ve always been terrible in maths. In high school the day I was going to pass my oral math exam I got to school early and ran into my maths teacher and the expert who was this little old man who seemed very kind. My teacher introduced us and told him that I was going to pass my exam with them later in the day, and I looked at the expert and told him ‘I’m really sorry for what you are about to witness.’ He laughed and with a sweet smile and look in his eyes answered that he was sure it was going to be okay and that I was just stressed out. I tried to explain to him that I wasn’t and that I simply already knew I was going to fail big time, and he wouldn’t believe me. Fast forward to my exam. It was going so bad, the little old man was growing more desperate and impatient and restless by the minute. He must have stood up 3 or 4 different times to come to the blackboard and correct everything I was doing wrong while growing frustrated at my lack of skills. My maths teacher was laughing the whole time. He knew how bad I was and I guess he was expecting this entertainement hahaha”

“During a written exam I once noticed another student acting a bit sketchy. I couldn’t quite figure out what they were doing and to this day I’m still not sure. They had a bunch of small cheat sheets, and they also seemed to be filming or taking pictures of their paper with a small device (it looked too small to be a smartphone, might have been an old timey phone or an iPod), while holding their exam sheet upside down for some reason (?!). They also kept looking around them which made them look extra conspicuous. An invigilator eventually noticed their strange behaviour. When I got out of the exam and met up with classmates I asked them if they had noticed and if they had understood what the heck was happening, turns out they were just as confused as I was :’) It shall remain a mystery.”

“It’s always a kinda funny when you meet a classmate for the first time at a department-wide end-of-year exam, and you had never seen them at any of the compulsory courses in the department. How did they manage to get a better grade than I did when they hadn’t ever turned up at any lecture or class?”

“So I turn up at this written exam, super stressed out because I know I haven’t memorised everything well enough. When I walk in the class everyone but me has big binders on their desks, and I notice they’re not putting them away when the exam starts. Turns out it was an open-book exam and I managed to miss the information, so I turned up with nothing but my pencil case ? (spoiler: I did not do well at that exam)”

“So for the maturité end-of-year exams we had all the 4-hours written exams in the span of a week (maths, French, English, German, option spécifique) and they all started early, and that meant I had to get up at 6 am to get there on time. My sleep schedule being terrible I never managed to get more than 5 hours of sleep for the whole week, and sleep deprivation causes me to fall asleep anywhere.
Long story short I feel asleep face first right on my table at each and every one of my written exams. An invigilator once came to check up on me, they were scared I had fainted or something. But I was just taking an accidental power nap, oops.
I passed all my exams nonetheless, so next time you find yourself nodding off during a long written exam, consider taking a quick lil power nap ;)”

“I fantasize about getting really, really high before an exam and acing it.”

“A cute anecdote: I was asked on a date after the exams in January by a guy I met once before and who was in the same exam room. He found my email address and emailed me right after the end of the exam. And now he is my boyfriend.”

*responses have been edited for clarity and length

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