It has been approximately two weeks post-midterm week and I finally got my last exam results back. I had started studying two weeks prior to the exam date to compensate for my weekend Japan trip the right before the exams. You could tell midterm-week was approaching by how packed the study rooms were. Eyes were constantly glued on a textbook or a laptop, to which I only assume is more lecture content. The air is much more strained, and you could tell that students were actually studying. As an Asian American, I face tremendous amount of pressure to do well academically. Although it has gotten more relaxed overtime, I still feel this residual need to succeed. Being in an Asian country, I can only imagine the pressure that these students must be facing. It is a very real phenomenon that may be considered a culture shock if it is something that you haven’t experienced.
Once the exams came around, I felt adequately prepared for the material and was moderately confident in getting passing scores, at the very least. I must say, some of the exams were harder than I anticipated. There’s a bit of a language barrier when it came to the actual exam itself since the professors occasionally chose some strange wording for their questions. I could only assume what the question was trying to go for, as some of the professors were not present for the exam and had other proctors. I would say that the exams were challenging, but reasonable. The hour was over before we knew it.
When the professor walked into class with a huge folder, with papers almost bursting out, you could feel the tension that came into the air. We all knew that the exams were about to be handed back to us. From what I have experienced, the professors would ask us to put everything away first. Phones, laptops, paper, pens, erasers, even water bottles. Everything away. As papers were handed back one by one, you could see the somber in some of these students faces. I initially felt that I got pretty average results on my exams. Maybe even better than I expected. Eventually, the papers were back with their respective owners and that was when the professor announced that the average was a 26/40— yep, that’s a 65 on a 100-point scale. No one got full marks, between the sections that he taught. The highest grade was a 90. In other classes, the professors announced similar results. The part that left me in awe was when he said he was pretty satisfied with the grade dispersion because it meant that the exam was challenging, as it was meant to be.
It was a culture shock for sure. I’ve had courses at Drexel where if this scenario were to have happened, I’m sure a curve would have been applied. In hindsight, I guess I did pretty well. Exams were rough and I’m glad I got through it in one piece. And if that was the midterms, I wonder what the finals will be like. I should study harder next time in preparation, especially now that I know that the expectations are just a little bit higher.