May in Review: An Exam, and Getting Back into Running.

I had only set myself two goals for May: to revise for the Concepts & Contexts module exam, and to start running again.

Exams are my least favourite thing about university, as I’m sure they are for most people.  Historically, I do not perform well in exams, whether they’re academic exams, music exams, or otherwise (except that one A that I received for a third year undergraduate exam that I thoroughly enjoyed sitting!). Thankfully my MA in Archives & Records Management only involved one exam, which I sat on 22nd May. I had revised and prepared for the exam, reading through lecture notes, re-reading journal articles, getting the key authors, principles and concepts in my head, and working through past exam papers. However, nothing really could have prepared me for the experience.

The exam paper had six questions, and we were to answer three over the course of three hours. Firstly, sitting for three hours in a stuff exam hall writing for the entire time is something that I am completely unused to. I do write quite a lot: I regularly keep a journal, and I write notes and lists a fair bit, but writing solidly for three hours was not enjoyable. Having worked through about four past exam papers during my revision, I thought I had a fair idea of what to expect, but when I opened the question booklet I found the questions to be really quite hard; my mind went blank and I struggled to plan and form strong answers to the questions. The message ringing in my ears throughout the exam was that ‘as long as you answer three questions then you should be fine’ – something that was reinforced to us by out lecturer during an earlier exam revision session. The three hours went by in a bit of a blur, and looking back I can’t really remember the questions that I answered or the answers I provided, and being in that stressful situation without any notes to hand and feeling the pressure, I know I didn’t do my best.

My two pieces of coursework for the module have both come out with a merit, so the fact that I didn’t do my best in the exam is not worrying me as much as it might do, as my coursework marks will pull up my exam marks if they are not good. Plus, if I’ve done really badly, then there will be the opportunity to re-sit the exam, but lets hope it doesn’t come to that. The exam marks the end of the university work that I have do before term starts again in September, so all I have to do over the summer is to make some decisions about my dissertation.

Now to running, and the more successful part of May. One evening after work, I went to Runners Need in Kensington, a fab little running shop where they assessed my running gait and kitted me out in some appropriate new trainers and socks. I also picked up some new running tights and a top (I always feel a bit more motivated when I have a new outfit to run in, or something that I feel good in). I hadn’t run since the beginning of September last year and I wasn’t feeling particularly fit or healthy, but since getting my new running gear, I’ve also invested in a Fitbit Charge and switched to a healthier eating regime (although ‘regime’ makes it sound too militarised, and it’s far from that). This, combined with getting back into running has made me feel pretty good! It’s not going to be a quick fix to get into shape, but I’ve been running regularly 3-4 times a week, and running for longer and further that I did back in September. I tweeted over the weekend that I might start training for a half marathon, so that’s something to work to over the coming months!




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