This article has been submitted by Aparajita Kaul for the CLATGyan Blog Post Writing Competition. If you think it’s a good read, ‘Like’ the article (the button is at the bottom of this piece) or post a comment using the ‘Comments’ section below.
Yes, it is THAT time of the year. Well prepared or not, all college aspirants have suffered through countless sleepless nights before and after the exam. Before the exam, it was the fear of uncertainty for me. Was I studying the right material? What are my fellow competitors studying? Will I get a college? If not, then what? And the occasional day-dreaming of what college life would be like. Then, the D-Days for the respective exams started arriving. No matter how much preparation you have done leading up to the exam, you have no clue about what is going to happen in the next few hours during it.
I gave five entrance exams and each one was a different experience. I breezed through some, panicked and almost cried while giving one and felt extremely confident after a couple. But in each exam, one significant detail was the defining factor that distinguished each paper from the next. That was my state of mind. When I would first look at the question paper, if I started with a dreadful attitude, I would end up wasting precious time focusing too much on trivialities like the uncertain future. When I became too confident while giving the paper, I missed out on looking into the finer details.
But all this taught me something that would go beyond these exams, that is, to find your point of equilibrium where you achieve the perfect frame of mind to write an exam or for any important task in life. No amount of study can prepare you for this. You are your only teacher when it comes to mastering this art.
Now that the exams were over, the illusion of catching up on lost sleep shattered as well. I tossed and turned every night, awake till dawn. I incessantly checked every institute’s ‘predicted’ cut-offs for some direction. I went through question papers repeatedly to find out where I had gone wrong, what I could’ve done better and how will I face everyone if the results come and I don’t get the college that is up to the standards of people I have never even talked to. This thought process is a big mistake. Distant relatives, acquaintances, forgotten friends et al, will continue to bombard you with their enlightened opinions. However, always remember – they did not sit for that exam, they have no stake in your future. You are your most important critic and judge. Only when you are satisfied with your own self will everything work out the way it’s supposed to.
And finally. when the results started pouring in, I rode on a roller coaster of emotions. In some, I had done exceptionally well and in some, I lost out on a seat by just 2-3 marks. Absolutely, 2-3 marks sound so miniscule, but in the world of competitive exams, they are game-changers. And one of the ‘epiphanies’ I had was, that in each exam. the same set of people performed so variedly. In one exam, I was 80 ranks ahead of a person who was 30 ranks ahead of me in another; just one of many examples. This was the point where I really questioned the rationale behind this system.
Entrance exams were formulated to provide a systematic and quantitative way to gauge a person’s ‘aptitude’. Yet the paradox lies in the fact that the person who is considered to be fit for one particular university is rejected by another on the basis of identical entrance tests. We can complain about the system and there’s a long way ahead for changing it but what I want all of us to realize is that never think of these marks as a measure of your worth.
If you don’t know the answers to a particular set of questions in one exam, it does not mean you do not have the ability to be as good a lawyer as the person who scored more. Had you given the paper some other day, maybe you would’ve scored more, or maybe scored lesser. It is not wise to dwell on ‘what ifs’ because even the most powerful fall prey to this abyss of regrets. All you can do is learn from every mistake and more importantly have faith in yourself. This is what I did.
Yes, an excellent college does provide you a slightly better education but in no way does it define the course of your future. Your future is in your hands and as clichéd as this may sound, the world is your oyster.
Don’t let your greatest dreams die down because of a sheet of paper. Dream on! 🙂