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My First University Programming Exam: A Nerve-Racking Experience

June 26, 2024
Jared Chiaramonte
Jared Chiaramonte
🇬🇧 United Kingdom
I am Jared Chiaramonte, A Computer Science Master's student at Arizona State University with expertise in machine learning, AI, and cybersecurity. I excel in problem-solving, engages in tech research, and has industry experience. Passionate about innovation, I am active in tech communities and enjoys contributing to open-source projects.
Key Topics
  • The Fateful Morning
  • The Examination Hall
  • The Paper Begins
  • The Mid-Exam Hurdles
  • The Complexity of Programming
  • A Glimmer of Hope
  • The Final Stretch
  • The Conclusion
  • Reflecting on the Experience

The day before my first university programming exam was a whirlwind of emotions. Anxiety and anticipation filled the air as my classmates and I tried to grasp the enormity of the challenge ahead. The vastness of our syllabus loomed large, and I found myself oscillating between Java and Python, trying to remember the intricacies of each language. At one point, the thought, “Can I get someone here to take my programming exam?” fleetingly crossed my mind as I grappled with the pressure. Little did I know, the experience in the examination hall would be a rollercoaster of nerves and excitement.

The Fateful Morning

The morning of the exam, I was up early, reviewing notes on C++ and desperately trying to commit the syntax of Lisp and Haskell to memory. The sun seemed to rise too quickly, ushering in the moment I had been dreading. I made my way to the exam centre, a different building than usual, which added to my sense of disorientation. Faces of teachers acting as invigilators were unfamiliar, and the sterile environment of the hall added to my confusion.


The Examination Hall

Walking into the examination hall felt surreal. It was a vast room filled with rows of desks, and the air was thick with tension. I prayed for an easy paper, hoping that my knowledge of Machine Learning algorithms and Scala would be enough to see me through. They say that ‘well begun is half done,’ so I tried to steady my nerves as I took my seat and waited for the exam to begin.

The Paper Begins

When the invigilator finally handed out the papers, my heart was pounding. I flipped it over and was relieved to see questions that seemed familiar. The first section focused on Java and C. I breathed a sigh of relief; these were my strong suits. I quickly scribbled down the solutions, thankful for the hours I had spent coding practice problems.

The Mid-Exam Hurdles

But the relief was short-lived. The next section dived into Netlogo and OCaml, languages I had only skimmed through. I felt a pang of panic, my mind going blank as I struggled to recall the syntax. This is the harsh reality of exams – they test how much one can cram and reproduce. My thoughts raced, and I found myself glancing nervously at my classmates, who were equally engrossed in their papers.

The Complexity of Programming

Halfway through the exam, my fingers began to ache from the relentless typing. We had sections on Artificial Intelligence and Cryptography that required precise, detailed code snippets. The pressure was mounting, and the invigilators’ stern gazes seemed to bore into my soul. Honest and hardworking students like myself appreciated the strict control, but it was a curse for those who might have relied on unfair means.

A Glimmer of Hope

I took a moment to collect myself, recalling the adage that one usually forgets in the hall what they know. I devoted the next thirty minutes to carefully going through the remaining questions, which included OpenGL and Prolog. The complexity of Verilog and VHDL questions pushed me to my limits, but I managed to write down coherent answers, thanks to my earlier preparations.

The Final Stretch

The last hour was the most grueling. I tackled questions on Web Development, JavaScript, and PHP, my mind racing against the clock. The section on SQL had me second-guessing my queries, but I pushed through. I had saved some time for revision, and I used it to refine my answers on Operating System concepts and Haskell.

The Conclusion

As the invigilator called time, I felt a mix of exhaustion and relief wash over me. The three hours in the examination hall had been an ordeal, a test not just of my programming knowledge but of my endurance and composure under pressure. I handed in my paper and walked out, taking a deep breath as I stepped into the sunlight. Despite the challenges, I was happy that I had done my best.

Reflecting on the Experience

Reflecting on the experience, I realized that the examination system indeed encourages cramming and surface-level learning. The vast scope of our curriculum – covering everything from GoLang to Eiffel – makes it difficult to master each topic in depth. Yet, this experience was invaluable. It taught me the importance of thorough preparation and the resilience needed to navigate the complexities of university-level programming exams.

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