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應付考試壓力的非正式指南
Coping with exam stress: unofficial guide

可悲的事,聽說本地的中國學生由於考試壓力而自殺。我從開始自學漢語的時候就一直設法見到華人學生,試試幫助他們應付壓力,但是我無法見到每一個人。希望有些最少能讀這個網頁。
I was very sad to hear about a local Chinese student who committed suicide over exam stress. Since I started learning Chinese I've always tried to meet Chinese students, and I always try to help students I know to cope with stress, but there's no way I can meet everybody. I hope some of them will at least read this page.

我並不是專業的心理學家或顧問,所以這是非正式的。不過我自己經驗了劍橋大學的計算機考試,而在最後考驗我跟另一個學生一起接受那年的最高分數。也許那個狀況給我資格發布以下的看法:
I'm not a professional psychologist or counsellor, but I have sat Cambridge University's Computer Science examinations, and in my finals they gave me and one other student the joint highest mark of the year. Perhaps that puts me in a position to say this:

考試是個無效的系統!
Exams are broken!

哦,大學提供我的網頁地方,而他們的規則禁止我說破壞大學名聲的話,所以我最好解釋自己一下: 曾經英國首相丘吉爾說民主政府是個無效的系統,但他覺得其他系統更無效。同樣,也許考試仍然是最好的大學系統而其他系統更無效,或者我們得等待未來的研究證明怎樣的系統更好。我沒有資格說什麼系統更好,但我仍然覺得考試是個有缺點的估價學生系統。(而我自己的高分數證明我的看法不是由於懷怒低分罷了。但要不是為了說明這個觀點,我不習慣談到我的分數。)
Well I'd better explain myself (seeing as the University provides my web space and I'm not supposed to say anything that brings them into disrepute)---there was once a British Prime Minister called Winston Churchill who said democracy is a bad system, but he thought all the other systems were worse. In the same way, perhaps the examination system is the best a university could do and all the other systems would be worse, or perhaps we need to wait for future research to prove what sort of system would be better. I'm not qualified to say what's better. But I still think exams are flawed as a way of measuring students. (And the fact that I was joint top first proves I'm not just saying that out of not liking my own mark. But I don't normally mention my marks except when I want to make this point.)

由於估價系統有缺點,你不必以為他們所給你的分數就是你的內在價值或效用。這好像求我(就是一個患皮層性視損傷的人)去沒有路燈的鄉下計算夜裡天空有多少星星。我雖然有時候會看夜晚有星星,但是有不少星星我沒看見,而最好別求我說它們的視星等,何況絕對星等。
Because the system is flawed, you shouldn't think that the mark they give you is a true measure of your intrinsic value or usefulness. That would be like asking me (a partially-sighted person) to go to a dark countryside village at night and count the stars in the sky. I can sometimes see there are stars, but I miss most of them, and you'd better not ask me about their apparent or absolute magnitudes.

對於積分怎樣影響未來的工作機會,我有另一個可能讓一些人小吃驚的事說說: 我以前被雇主拒絕,說我資歷過高。我所申請的工作是很可敬的寫軟件任務,但他們仍然說我資歷過高。所以,分數高不等於工作機會多。無論有多少分數(包括零在內),有某個機會(可能是個雇主不信任分數比較高的人做的機會)你能找而做得到的。
Regarding the effect of one's mark on future job opportunities, here's another thing that might be a little surprising for some: I've been refused jobs and told I'm "overqualified"---and I'm talking about respectable programming jobs here. So it's not necessarily true that higher marks mean more job opportunities. Whatever mark you get (even zero), there will be something (maybe even something that those of us with higher marks won't be trusted to do!) that you can find.

第一年的學生特別得放心: 其實,大學考試不是烈火熊熊的酷刑房間。管理員不穿《星空奇遇記》外星人服裝而咆哮“你們即將被考驗,反抗無用”。大學經常說你必及格第一年才能做第二年,但其實他們的及格水平不太高,因為他們不真的想失去學生,因為那等於他們失去錢。
First years might especially need to set their minds at rest: university examinations are not fiery torture chambers. Invigilators don't march around in Star Trek alien costumes chanting "you will be examined---resistance is futile." Universities typically say you must pass the first-year exams to continue to the second year, but in reality the pass mark is not that high because they want students to continue---after all, losing students means losing money.

我特別同情私立學校畢業生。我自己的學校是本地政府所資助的所以我沒經驗文法學校的氣氛,但聽說那個氣氛是“你必須贏,你必須贏,你必須贏”。跟你分享一個秘密: 不是必須的! 你可以選擇試試做考試,也可以隨時選擇離開。如果想起來都是你所選擇的事而不是必須的事,壓力可能小一點。
I'm particularly sympathetic to private-school students, as with my state-school background I didn't have to cope with the allegedly "you must win, you must win, you must win" atmosphere of a grammar school. Let me tell you a secret: you don't have to do anything! You can choose to stay and try the exam, or you can choose to leave at any time---if you remember it's your choice, not something you have to do, then the pressure may seem to be off a bit.

而且我的父母和祖父母輩都沒有參加了大學,所以我沒有家人說“我的分數是這樣,你現做更好吧”。要是你有家人這樣說,要記得每年級都不一樣,系統年年改變。
And as none of my my parents or grandparents attended university, I didn't have any family members saying "here's my mark, now you beat it". If you have someone like that, please remember that every year-group is different and the system changes from year to year.

考試之前我天天複習,但不是太多了。那一年我們有個真棒的學生,他天天複習12個小時,我那時覺得我的4到6小時無法比得上他。但他看來有精疲力竭症候群而沒接受所希望接受的分數。(別當心他,他後來打開一個有名的因特網公司。不過我們從此能看出,你最好別做太太多多的複習而破壞自己的身體健康。)
Before my exams I revised every day, but not too much. There was a very good student in my year who revised for 12 hours a day---my 4 to 6 hours weren't going to hold a candle to that, I thought. But he got what seemed to be burnout, and didn't achieve the mark he wanted. (Not to worry: he went on to start a famous Internet company. But it goes to show that you shouldn't exhaust yourself with excessive revision.)

考試之前,確認考試的時間地點而你的號碼。如果是在你不認識的房間,最好提前探訪那個房間所以你知道能容易找到。考試開始之後,你很可能看見某人寫寫寫很多字。不要因此沮喪。那個學生很可能錯了。可能他忽略讀指示,比如“回答只有5個問題而已”或“首先驗證自己的確接受了12頁”的指示。也許他沒有慢慢讀考試的問題而真正地明白他們希望什麼解答方法。也許他的筆跡太亂了,無法讀。另一方面,你能小心而避免這個圈套。也避免採用修正液(那會抹掉正確的回答),然而離開很多空白所以後來的調整很容易(這不是節省紙的時候)。也要記得,如果問題都特別難,分數很可能後來被調整。如果你享受你所選擇的專業,這可能會有所抵銷你的腎上腺素。被太擔心得不到的分數,反而收集得到的分數。系統雖然壞了,但我們仍然能短中抽長。但無論如何別以為你的價值有賴於某個有缺點的考試系統。
Before the exam, make sure you know the time and place and your candidate number, and if it's in a room you've never seen before then it might be a good idea to visit the room in advance so you know you'll be able to find it easily on the day. When the exam starts, you'll probably see somebody start to write and write and write. Don't let that dishearten you. That student is probably doing it wrong. Perhaps he didn't read the instructions, such as the one about answering only 5 questions, or making sure you've received all 12 pages. Perhaps he didn't read the questions slowly enough to properly understand what kind of answer the examiners are really looking for. Or maybe his handwriting will be too messy to read. You on the other hand can take more care and avoid these traps. And don't use correction fluid (that stuff could be blotting out the right answer); instead leave plenty of space in case you need to make corrections later (this isn't the time to save paper). Remember too that if the exam is particularly hard the marks will likely be moderated upwards. If you enjoy your chosen subject, this might offset the adrenaline somewhat. Don't worry too much about the marks you can't get, but pick up the ones you can. The system may be broken, but we can still try to make the best of a bad job. But whatever happens, never think your true worth depends on some 'imperfect but best we can do' examination system.

進一步閱讀有關應付壓力的資料 (我知道這個出版社有宗教的而不同的人有不同的宗教看法,但我覺得那篇文章無可指摘)
Further reading about stress in general (I'm aware the publisher is religious and there are different religious opinions, but it's hard to fault that article)


All material © Silas S. Brown unless otherwise stated.
Usual disclaimers apply; this is not legal or medical advice.