Over the last week, I prepared for an English exam. That’s when I realised how pathetic of a test taker I am. I had to take an academic-grade exam for work, and having been away from the official learning arena for over four years, I had no idea what to expect. I returned to the classroom environment and its fierce competition, with a little apprehension and more than a little nervousness. I could only think of all the things that could go wrong.
I was reading through sample essays when I noticed how much I had changed since my years at school. The recommended essays looked nothing like the ones I now write. When I write a piece for my personal blog or for a work blog, I try to focus on my voice and my opinion, and then form logical structures. The essays for the test, however, seemed childish to an extent. They tried too hard to be unbiased and cover as many points as possible, resulting in too much generality. It was at that point that I also realised—with much dread—that I too had to write in the same way if I were to acquire a proper score.
Gulping much air and all my doubts, I read essay after essay. Every one of them had the same structure: introduction, merits, demerits, and a conclusion. That should be easy, I thought before sitting down to write my own. I read the first essay prompt and felt all sanity evaporate from my mind. I blanked out. I couldn’t, for a moment, understand what to write or how to write.
I had a meagre amount of time to go from an outline to a final draft—a feat I’d never attempt elsewhere. Yet I had no other choice. I could’ve written a scrappy blog post in that time, but to construct a proper academic essay was harder than I assumed.
The samples looked easy enough, and they read like an immature person’s way of presenting their ideas. And yet only when I had to balance two sides of an argument in one essay—with a time crunch of 20 minutes and word limit of 300—did I understand how hard it must be for students. With so many things to consider, it’s no wonder academic essays lack quality writing, overflowing, instead, with stuffed and half-baked arguments.
Accepting that shamefaced reality, on the day of the exam, I wrote an essay so contrary to my nature, and walked out of the room. I had done what I had to do. I didn’t know how I did, but I know now for sure that I’d never enjoy writing academic essays.