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Blood, panic and tears: 10 extreme exam blunders

Exam bloopers — Some exams go just fine. Others, well, don’t. 10 students recount the times when everything that could go wrong, went wrong.

Locked in the toilet

“On my first semester, I accidentally locked myself in the toilet at Peter Bangs Vej during my exams in Damages and Contracts. In fact the door handle fell off when I tried to get out, and I couldn’t either open the door or unlock it. The exam supervisor could not hear me banging on the door, and I really got into a panic.

After what seemed like an hour, but which was probably only 10 minutes, I managed to climb out of the stall. I got out, in a bit of a mess, and with a door handle in my hand. I gave it to the exam supervisor and told them what had happened.

I got out, in a bit of a mess, and with a door handle in my hand
Maria Jensen, master's student in law

He looked at me with astonishment and replied “you should not have tried to fix it. Don’t even think about it. We’d better make sure no one else goes out there.” I had no extra time, but I just sat down, confused and stressed out, and rushed on with the writing.”
Maria Jensen, master’s student in law

 

Focal point of the drama

“Before I started at the University of Copenhagen (UCPH), I studied English language and creative writing in the UK. Here I did all my assignments without headlines and explanations, but in a more narrative flow. We had, for example, never written explicit problem formulations or methods – these were implied in the assignment.

When I started at UCPH and had to do my first exam in dramaturgy, I didn’t I think much about it, and did the assignment in my usual style. I didn’t take the formal requirements too seriously and thought that the problem formulation would be implied. But with no specific problem formulation, my instructor had no idea where I was going, and could not assess whether I had achieved what I set out to do. This really pulled the grade down. Stupid.”
Mathias Pedersen, bachelor student, in Theatre and Performance Studies

A test of tears

“I have sobbed my way through an oral exam. I had already begun to cry, when I drew the assignment question. It had been an exciting but tough set of courses, ending up with two oral exams. I studied and studied and studied, and I had prepared myself the best I could. But I did not have the time to prepare for all the questions.

I had already begun to cry, when I drew the assignment question.
Turi Schäffer, master’s in physics

I drew a really tough question, which I had not studied. This combination of circumstances pushed me over the edge. It was the final exam, I had not slept, and I was really running on empty, even though I loved the subject. I got some water to drink, but it took some time before the examiner and co-examiner were able to understand what I said at all. When I was sent out, I was still crying, and I was still crying when I got my grade. I remember very little from the exam.”
Turi Schäffer, master’s in physics

Forgot the exam

“On my bachelor I was under enormous pressure from the insane grade race that I felt at the beginning of the study programme. I was so busy with rereading the entire syllabus from beginning to end before the exam, that I had put the wrong date down in my schedule.

I only noticed my blunder, when my girlfriend wrote to me and asked how the exam went – while I was still at home buried in my books. I went into a complete panic and felt like I was the most stupid person in the world. At least I had got through the syllabus before the reexamination.”
Sandeep Sahota, master’s student in law

The assignment with no full stops

“On my bachelor I had to defend an assignment on multiculturalism and immigration policy in South Korea. I was tired after a long semester and found the assignment difficult to get through. So as soon as I was finished editing the assignment I converted it from Word to Pdf and uploaded it immediately on to the digital exam site. And then I happily started my Christmas holiday.

All the assignments’ full stops were gone, and there were random words and letters

Louise Vendelboe, master’s degree student, cross-cultural studies

It was not until the day before defending it, that I discovered that something had gone wrong in the conversion. All the assignments’ full stops were gone, and there were random words and letters. I was super embarrassed about it, and sat at home and cried. I was sure I would fail. But I was allowed to explain to the instructor and co-examiner what had happened, and I got off with a reprimand on checking through your paper prior to submission. Fortunately, I survived, and the only trauma I had after it was that I now check my assignments four or five times before uploading.”
Louise Vendelboe, master’s degree student, cross-cultural studies

 

Bleeding at biology

“It was for a written exam in mathematics and statistics on the biology study programme. I was studying biology to gain some experience before starting the medicine programme, so there was a lot at stake. This means that all grades counted – and I wanted a 12!

I was under some real pressure and was trying to respond to the last question. And then blood started to rush out of my nose, as I frantically tried to stop it with lined A4 paper
Camilla Lundahl, master's degree student, medicine

There was only fifteen minutes left of the exam, and I was under some real pressure trying to respond to the last question. And then blood started to rush out of my nose, as I frantically tried to stop it with lined A4 paper I was at the back of the room and could not get into contact with any of the exam supervisors, and you are allowed to leave the room during the last 30 minutes, so I continued writing with the other hand. And yes, the assignment had to be written by hand. And yes, I submitted a my assignment with blood spatter all over it.”
Camilla Lundahl, master’s degree student, medicine

Naps with consequences

“I have not just once, but twice, managed to sleep passed a deadline. Both times I had actually already done the work. The first time was for the exam in International Law, which is a 24-hour exam. I had written non-stop for 23 hours and was finally finished. I uploaded the assignment, forgot to click “submit” – and went to bed.

I had written non-stop for 23 hours and was finally finished. I uploaded the assignment, forgot to click “submit” – and went to bed.

Emilie Bach Hansen, master’s student in law

The re-examination, of course, also ended in a mess. One hour into the exam, UCPH had to cancel it because they accidentally uploaded grading instructions together with the examination assignment. So I had to wait to complete the course. The second time I slept through the deadline for submission of a written assignment in Rights, Morals and Politics. I had written the assignment and just wanted to watch some TV before I looked through it again. In the meantime I managed to fall asleep, and I did not get to give in my assignment. It’s good you have several attempts. In the end, it all ended with me submitting my bachelor’s thesis five times. Just to be on the safe side.
Emilie Bach Hansen, master’s student in law

A beaten – and scarred – mathematician

“It was raining, and I was on my way to an exam in Geometry 1, when a little girl stepped out in front of my bike on the bike path. I squeezed the brakes and ended, of course, on the wet asphalt. Fortunately, I was in good time, so when I arrived at the exam, I still had time to find a first aid kit and clean my wounds. The exam began, and I discovered then that my girlfriend’s computer, which I had borrowed, had also taken a turn on to the asphalt and would not switch on.

For four excruciating hours I sat and calculated directional and second derivatives, cross products and Gaussian curvatures by hand while trying to avoid bleeding too much on my papers. After the exam, when I retold my story to my girlfriend and told her that her computer was destroyed, she could tell me that the battery had just come loose. I could just have pushed it back into place. I also managed to get lost on my way home from the exam, and I still have a scar on my knee.”
Simon Skov Hansen, master’s degree student, mathematics

A fluid defence

In the meantime, the co-examiner and I sat there in embarrassing silence waiting. Only interrupted by my clumsy comments about the bad weather

Michelle Svan, master’s student in law

“When I had to defend my bachelor, I started by forgetting my student ID card, and was very nervous when I could not find it. A good start. I got into the exam, and the examiner offered me a glass of water to cool the nerves. There were water bottles and plastic cups on the table, and in an attempt to be funny I replied ‘yes please, then I have something to tip over ‘.

I took a glass, opened the bottle and poured water into the glass. I might have been a little too keen. The pressure from the water tipped the glass over, and water flowed all over the table. We hurried to rescue the papers on the table while the examiner ran down three floors to the nearest bathroom to pick up some paper. In the meantime, the co-examiner and I sat there in embarrassing silence waiting. Only interrupted by my clumsy comments about the bad weather.”
Michelle Svan, master’s student in law

A statistical flop

“At the time I was studying public health science at UCPH. On my bachelor I was at a total of 23 exams. Seven of them didn’t go like I hoped they would. The worst part was the examination in statistics. I had had a long semester with relationship sorrows and too many beers, so I had enough overestimated how prepared I actually was. At the oral exam I heard myself say ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I don’t understand what it is you are asking’ again and again.

At the oral exam I heard myself say 'I don't know' or ‘I don't understand what it is you are asking’ again and again.
Sofie Rasmussen, master's degree student in educational studies (RUC)

Maybe it was a mental block, but even though I had prepared myself the best I could, I only barely passed. My instructor even gave me the opportunity to fail, so I could get a better grade on reexamination. And when I told about my plan to discontinue my studies at university, he replied ‘yes, this is probably a good idea’. All in all a really bad exam.”
Sofie Rasmussen, master’s degree student in educational studies (RUC)

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