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.