Exams, or don’t sweat the small stuff

So sorry for the hiatus, term was finished but now I’m back. To all those who are reading this while applying or trying to decide on accepting or not feel free to reach out. I’ve chatted with about a dozen admits or prospective students and I’m always happy to chat. – Now to the blog post itself!

Oxford is richly filled with history, I have no reason to doubt its veracity except that legend grows here faster than moss. One such legend states that a student wore a suit of armor to an exam and was promptly escorted out of the exam schools with a distinction (highest grade) and a fine. A distinction because instead of wearing sub-fusc the typical Oxonian dress he had worn full-fusc the suit of armor; a fine because he failed to wear the traditional broadsword at his hip. We love our legends and I’d like to think that they are true but if not they at least can inspire future generations.

Oxford,_Examination_Schools_02Two weeks ago we had our first set of Exams inside the exam school. We had two over 3 days and the amount of time put in at the library in preparation was absurd (for my tastes). The concern that people had with getting a distinction was so palatable that I had to bring a plate of cookies to get the taste out of my mouth! At Oxford individual class grades are not reported, in fact the only thing that is reported is a simple Fail / Pass / Distinction mark.

Now I have parents who would love me just a smidgen more if I got a distinction, however I looked out at all the stress of the exam prep and realized that all I needed to do was simply pass the exams which wasn’t too difficult. Instead I spent the rest of my time trying to help de-stress the rest of our class. This is because one lesson I learned in the past year is to Not Sweat The Small Stuff (and it’s all small stuff). So I made cookies, provided some comic relief, and most importantly listened to the legend of the brave knight who pushed the boundaries of sub-fusc.

Kilt FuscAt this point in the story I have to tell you that after a decade of fencing I have a hate/hate relationship with trousers. My booty tends to push beyond the barriers of the physics of pants causing a rip in the fabric of space-time … or just my trousers. During Michaelmas term my tuxedo trousers ripped completely beyond repair … twice.

Facing this lack of supportive sub-fusc; the legend of full-fusc; and the stress on our class for the final exams, I had an idea. While I didn’t have access to a full suit of armor (you were really hoping this was going there … me too!) I did have access to the rule-book for sub-fusc and an Amazon Prime account. So on the day of the exam I strode into the noble halls where generations of Oxonians have quivered in fear of poor performance in full Scottish kilt-fusc!

b_examhallYep, As a man with quite hairy legs I skipped in a skirt down the aisles of desks, passed the invigilators who keep a watchful eye on us to prevent cheating and took my seat. Everyone I talked to before and those who saw me walk by the invigilator (and her shocked reaction) relaxed and had a chuckle.

You see a simple black kilt is now acceptable dress for sub-fusc and I had decided to not sweat the small stuff. Now my story will not go down in the annals of history as a legend but I was able to bring smiles to suffering students and prove that I wasn’t going to sweat the small stuff.

As we start the next term in full-swing tomorrow I can’t help but keep that image in my mind and hope that whenever I come across something so inconsequential to the big picture that I can easily dismiss it with the mental image of that day.