Testing Times

Ah, the joy of exams.

Does anyone enjoy them ?.

I vividly recall blind panic and how my brain stubbornly refused to recall revised facts. I also recall the sense of impending doom as I sat yet another exam in yet another subject I had no interest in.

Bullying put a real downer on my secondary school experience. After that, and the lack of any practical support or ability to put the bully’s in their place, it was hard to concentrate in lessons where you were abused and picked upon by your classmates. Perhaps, in those circumstances, and a long before diagnosis awareness that I didn’t fit in, I wasn’t likely to succeed.

I just didn’t like school.

I hated Maths. Yes I could add and subtract but I had no need for angles, fractions or trigonometry. I’ve never passed a Maths exam in my life which is somewhat ironic given I’ve spent the last 15 years of my working life dealing almost exclusively with numbers. I understood English perfectly well thank you but reading books described as “The Classics” when they were filled with archaic language and the motivations of their characters were a complete mystery to me, seemed even more of a waste of time.

I resented the sciences. I resented them because they were imposed on me in a bizarre attempt to make me a doctor!. I’d never said I wanted to be a doctor but that career choice had, apparently, been made for me by the science department. I think I thoroughly disappointed them by hideously failing physics and chemistry and barely scraping through a low level biology exam.

Autism is, of course, about interests and the subjects on offer just didn’t represent my interests. There was nothing, or very little, that I could enthuse about. Geography was passable and whilst I excelled at History I should confine that excelling to knowing a lot about Ancient Greece which meant I did well in some exams but failed the big ones because, oh lord, why does it always have to be modern history ?.

After the debacle of secondary school I was thrust into college to spend a year taking new O’ level subjects in an effort to give me something worthwhile to put on a CV several years later. The good thing about college was that you could choose your own topics rather than sit a set curriculum.

I chose Law. Law was solid, predictable and logical. I loved Law but really struggled with contract law, a factor that would spoil my A level effort but was barely present at the lower level. At least here there was a subject I could get my teeth into. Similarly, Politics was a logical, structured topic. I came unstuck here at A level when they loaded the exam paper with American politics, a topic in which I had zero interest. Why do they always spoil it for me ?.

My other choices were “Write whatever you like because it’s probably right about something!” Or, as you know it, Sociology!. I added in Psychology or as I knew it “Write whatever you like and mention sex a lot and it’s probably right” and Art ( for a complete change of pace ).

I have the artistic ( and autistic ) talent of a single cell amoeba so my still life was swiftly renamed still death and my portraits brought forth cries of revulsion and the sound of violent retching resonating through the studio. To this day, given that my Mother and Sister were highly talented artistically, I am faintly embarrassed by my lack of talent.

But that was how things were.

I’m not blaming being Autistic, nor do I blame bullying although both were factors in my lack of educational success. Partially I think it’s that I’m not an exam person. I panic, I go into a spiral of despair and my mind becomes a sieve just sifting all the useful information and watching it dribble out through my ears!. But the main thing is, I think, that I’ve never ( rarely ) had the opportunity to study things I want to study. And these days Fibro Fog has cursed me with a shocking memory and Anhedonia has ripped interests and hobbies from me.

So my opportunity passed.

Exams. Some thrive, some have the perfect brain to recall information.

But for myself ?. Testing times indeed.

1 thought on “Testing Times

  1. I can totally relate! Elementary and Secondary school was a nightmare. The bullying and I struggled in a lot of subjects. I call myself lucky for graduating with a diploma. I worked my butt off though!

    Although I was held back a year in grade 1, and I also had to go back after graduation to finish a couple credits (They let me graduate with my class even though I was missing a couple credits in promise I would come back the following year to finish)

    The only one I remember I was missing was science, I failed Biology and chemistry. In grade 11-12 those were our only two choices for a science cred. I opted out and took Earth Science online through the school. I passed with flying colors, but going back and only taking that course and another one I think really helped) Don’t get me started on how much I hated math, although I did nail Trigonometry. I dont know what interested me about it, but I did well in that particular part. I learned though it was not my lack of interest or lack of hard work, I worked hard in all my courses even harder than my straight A brother. Only to always come out short in science and maths. In grade 9 though we had this amazing math teacher, he will always be one of my favorites, he got my Math mark up to a B by the end of the year. But he knew the way I learned I think and he taught me that way, took time in class to sit down with me and walk me through the assignments, tests etc and I also took time out of my lunches to get lessons from him. Because he took interest in what would make sense to me etc, as much as I had no interest in Math him willing to try encouraged me to keep trying. Math 10 I failed, but it wasn’t a all my fault, basically two really bad teachers (I took math 10 twice) long story short I failed both times so since I still needed some kind of math 10 credit to graduate (after that it was optional) I opted out of principles of math and took essentials of Math. I passed essentials of Math with like A’s and high test marks etc. Lol. Essentials of Math though I will say used many real life math skills, such as banking and I thought it was far more useful to my future than Principles of Math. Ince obviously Math was never going to be my major in college or Uni.

    I did however excel in English, Arts, Social Studies, Geography and History. That is not so much though I think because of my autism though or necessarily interests. English and arts are special interests for sure…but seems to be more of the left vs right side of the brain kinda deal. I was great at English, Arts, Social Studies etc, but struggled with science and maths. My brother was the science and math genius, but struggled with English, Social Studies, Geo etc. Him being a year younger and me repeating a grade we went through school together and this came in handy in high school. We helped each other a lot in homework as we struggled with different subjects. Free tutoring ftw! xD

    Thank you for sharing your experiences, and it’s comforting to know someone else had similar experiences as me.

    Liked by 1 person

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