Regular readers (I’m sure I have at least one!) will have noticed a lack of posts from me for a while. The reason? I’ve been doing an intense PRINCE2 training course all week, so between that and the running I’ve been doing little else.
I was warned that the course would be intense and that I’d have homework to do, but didn’t expect it to be quite as difficult as it turned out to be. It also involved two exams – the first proper ones I’d taken in 14 years!
In fact, the memories of the pleasure and pain of studying all came flooding back, reminding me both of why I was ecstatic after my last university exam, but also why I loved the challenge. Wednesday’s exam was tense to say the least; 75 multiple choice questions to answer in just one hour and none of them dead giveaways. I felt under pressure; I had to pass to continue the course, other colleagues had gone on the course and passed before me, and I’ve always had a good success rate in exams so had personal pride at stake.
After the Wednesday exam, we were told to wait in the coffee room for about 15 minutes while the papers were marked. Everyone was nervous; no-one knew for sure that they’d passed and many were pretty despondent. Which led me to think: why the hell give us just one hour anyway? What does limiting the time to answer prove? How does that set us up for real life situations? Quick! You have thirty seconds to decide on which people you have to send this report to! Those who set exams and their timescales must be sadists…
The trainer called us in and sat us down. It was like the Apprentice – would anyone be fired? He started to talk. “For tonight’s homework, please go over section four in your folders.” I was numb. What? Is that it? Is it tune-in-next-week time? Confusion reigned, as someone braved the question that was all on the tip of our tongues. “So, did we pass or not?” A pause as he cleared his throat. “Yes, you all passed.” And then the room errupted.
Is was a relatively tiny exam. It was only a few days’ studying. We could have always retaken it. Our careers didn’t depend on passing. Yet the relief on hearing those four words made us all feel like we’d just been pardoned from Death Row. Applause, air-punching and big smiles all round. There would be a tomorrow after all.
As it turns out, Friday’s exam was much less stressful. I won’t get my results for a few weeks, but I’m quietly confident I passed. Everyone else seemed to be the same, even the ones who weren’t very confident come Friday morning. Considering it was three times longer, involved case scenarios, and was meant to be harder, it was a relief to find that we were all well-equipped to deal with most of the questions.
Which brings me to my trainer. He was mad but effective (as I said to him on Friday!) and you couldn’t doubt his enthusiasm or knowledge. He made a relevant point in response to the droning through the walls of the trainers in adjacent rooms: course subjects – however important – can often be very dull. Trainers have to bring them to life if people are ever going to learn them. Even if they take great pleasure from your own suffering.Please consider donating to the children's charity that I have now painfully run the 26.2 miles for - details at: http://www.justgiving.com/andymales