Final exam horror stories

What not to do during final exams. (Courtesy of Sneha Wadhwani)

What not to do during final exams. (Courtesy of Sneha Wadhwani)

Ever have that dream that you’re taking a test and you never studied for it? It’s a common occurrence of nervous test takers. Or what if you slept late, or went to your final exam in your pajamas? You know you have good study habits and have listened to all the study tips for college students. But what if the unexpected happens? Are you prepared? Here are some horror stories of final exams.

“The Dream” that you never studied for the test

A common dream for students is arriving on test day and realizing you never studied, never went to any classes or never even knew you were signed up for the course. Or, worse yet, that you arrived to class naked. Believe it or not, these scenarios have been investigated by psychologists. “The dream is common to the past two to three generations in the United States and other countries with educational systems that emphasize high stakes formal written tests that determine your future academic opportunities,” said Dr. Judy Willis in the article, “Recurring final exam dream: You forgot you were taking the course,” on, September 7, 2009.

Dr. Willis says the test and the classroom represent important events in our lives. She offers some anecdotal meanings to the dream:

•     forgetting to do something important in waking life

•     knowing you should do something important but being hesitant or reluctant to do it

•     reminding you not to miss an opportunity and take a more active role in your destiny

•     having low confidence about your future

The test room moved

At some larger colleges, teachers who teach many sessions of a popular class, such as Psychology 101, will hold the final exam in a larger lecture hall to house all the students at once. Imagine your surprise going to your usual classroom at your usual time and seeing it empty! Make sure you don’t miss the announcement if the test time and the exam room will be different from your regular class.

Bizarre study methods

Some of my college friends studied their poetry exam material by stamping their feet to the rhythm of the poems. They’d memorize the opening lines and tap their feet, as if they were in band tapping to the musical beats. But during the test, they could remember the material only by stamping their feet! … The teacher was not amused!

What’s your final exam horror story?

In “Exam-hall nightmares: Share your stories,” on, June 1, 2012, Rebecca Ratcliffe shared some readers’ escapades on exam day. There was the guy who wore his musical Christmas socks. “Halfway through the exam, a muffled, musical rendition of ‘Rudolph’ emerged from his shoes. He was forced to hand his socks over to an angry invilgator [test monitor] mid-exam.”

Readers also described:

•     Having to take a test with loud street traffic outside.

•     Having a brain freeze and forgetting how to spell simple words.

•     Breaking the chair you’re sitting in.

•     Being violently ill during the exam.

•     Facing down a spider crawling across the floor.

•     Being tickled by a fellow test taker to make you giggle.

In “Embracing final exam week,” posted December 12, 2012 to, Beverly Low, Dean of First-Year Students at Colgate University in New York, shared the story of her freshman final exams in 1980: “I sat for my very first college exam wearing hideous flannel pajamas, a Red Sox hat, and brand-new L.L. Bean boots. Really pretty. Regardless of the outfit, I claimed a major victory after oversleeping, scaling snow banks, and audibly scrambling to the third floor of Murdock Hall. I looked ridiculous. But I was never again late for an exam. Ever.”

You want me to explain what?

To end on a chuckle, offers some nightmare exam questions. Pray you don’t get these on your test.

Art exam: With an eight-count box of crayons and three sheets of notebook paper, recreate the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

Economics exam: Describe in 400 words or less what you would have done to prevent the Great Depression.

Biology exam: Create life.

What has been your final exam nightmare?

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